I cry. I weep. I work. I try to make a difference. I try to be unique and special. Yet now it is being taken away from me even more. I will at best become run-of-the mill. I will more likely become second rate. I will be perceived as the poor option.
I dislike my Department immensely. I have poured myself into my work and my career, and have tried to be respectful by not stepping on anyone's toes, but at the same time I have striven to be a unique, needed, and special part of my Department. Now we are in the midst of hiring a new member. The "need" is for an additional professor in my primary class, anatomy & physiology. That, in and of itself, felt sad. Yes, there is need for more courses, but it was my primary way of feeling a unique and valued presence. But, I spent the last few months during this process working through my feelings on that matter and was comfortable with the logic and the need for an additional instructor in my field as the number of students presently was too many for me to handle alone. So, I have been trying to work through the selection process and select those candidates that were able to teach anatomy & physiology, but at the same time were individuals whose specialization was DIFFERENT from my own, and was different from others in the Department as well. I thought this would give needed breadth to our offerings and to the research opportunities we could offer. It was all well and good, and 6 of the 7 candidates WERE capable and distinctly different from me in terms of research emphasis and specialization. Yet, today, we had a candidate I did not really want to interview. He has the same background and expertise as me, and he has the same experience in teaching anatomy & physiology as well.
I am torn up inside. On one hand, the fellow is VERY nice. He is kind, considerate, and intelligent. He even uses a very similar teaching style to me. If he were elsewhere I would enjoy being his collaborator and friend. Yet, I am filled with anger and dread, because he will likely be selected by our Department to fill the position. Not because he was the only capable candidate... several of the candidates would do a good job with the teaching. The problem is, the Department likes him because he is "cool" and "trendy" and for the women, he is also likely to be considered quite attractive.
So, here I am now, a very good, loyal, dedicated professor in my field. I have worked many, many, many years to make a place for myself, a place that allows me to offer unique services and have a unique role in the University. And now we will very likely hire a duplicate of me.... a duplicate who is "cooler", "trendier" and more eye appealing. I can imagine the students now. "Hmmm, who should I take for anatomy & physiology... I have heard they are both pretty good... should I take the cool, trendy "hottie", or should I take the course from the fat, old guy who is frumpy? Damn, that was an easy choice.... I'll take the "cool" one."
I have not worked so long to be dumped back into a junior high where my worth is judged by how "cool" and "trendy" I am. I am not wanting to engage in a popularity contest based upon factors that I cannot control. It hurts like hell that my Department would do this to me.
It is not like there are not other candidates that are NOT clones of me (note, I mean "cooler" "trendier" and more handsome clones). In fact, there are at least TWO candidates that I think would be equally good teachers who would offer different areas of expertise than my own... and would leave me with the sense of having a unique aspect to my own work. But no, the others in my Department are just as "wowed" by the trendiness as the students will be.
All I foresee in my future if this hire occurs is a ratcheting of stress in my life. Sure, I could be a bastard and force myself to get the "plum" positions and "best offerings" due to seniority. But that is not how I live life. I also do not like to have antagonism and struggle continually be a part of my every choice at work. Yet, I do not want to become the "second choice" either, nor do I want to wither away into oblivion as a "cooler" version of me gets all the limelight.
Again, please understand this possible hire is a very nice fellow. He is, and I like him as a person. But, I do not feel it is fair or appropriate to have him join our Department because in the end all it will do is make my life harder, not easier. It will make me feel more insecure and stressed.
Even though there is no real option for this... I feel so strongly about this change that if I had another opening somewhere at some other University... I would uproot my family and move to the new location. Or, and I never thought I would say this, if I were to be offered an administrative position in my University... I would leave teaching and join the administration in order to not be put in this situation. Please realize the seriousness of this... TEACHING is always been my work and my life. It is what I have felt created to do. Yet, the thought of the stress of being in competition for every role I have and do at the University is simply unacceptable and unworkable for me, and I *would* leave if I had an option to do so.
I hope and pray that the Department vote will be to hire one of the other two "non-trendy" "non-clones" of myself. I doubt that will happen, because by and large my Department doesn't really give a damn about me... and they only look out for protecting themselves.
So, my apologies to all the people who gripe at me for being sad and moping and never writing anything uplifting. It is not in me to write anything like that today. I had vowed to not write if all I had to say was sad or negative, but I had to tell those of you who *do* care about my pain.
It has been a horrendous year on so many levels, and it now seems to only be getting worse.