In this final post in this series, I address the role of connecting with others in my efforts to rebound from academic failure.
Connecting Can Be Hard
It isn’t really a final step, but can be the most difficult for me. Even though I share a lot on this blog and on social media, I’m actually a very private person. I also strive to be independent, which makes reaching out to others difficult. Connecting is difficult for me because of reciprocity. If I ask someone for help, I want to make sure I’m able to return the favor. But what if I’m not available when they ask for help? Or what if what they ask me to help with is beyond what I know?
Connecting Varies By Failure Type
Despite my own struggles with connecting with others, I’ve found it to be invaluable in rebounding from academic failure. After I learned I’d been denied tenure at LSU, I reached out a couple of trusted colleagues. Their words of encouragement and advice they offered actually helped shaped the perspectives I offered in previous posts, particularly this one. After a manuscript is rejected, I don’t always reach out directly to anyone, but tend to vent about it on social media. That brings on a mix of quips about Reviewer #2 and encouraging words. But, when it’s a piece that’s been rejected multiple times, and I don’t feel like there’s any hope, I do reach out to connect. And when it comes to failure on the job search, I’ve faced those struggles alone more often than I’ve tried to connect with anyone.
Rebounding Can Take a Team
As the final post in the series, I want to wrap things up nicely when it comes to rebounding from academic failure. So much of my experience as an academic has reinforced the idea that academia can be lonely. That’s not true for everyone, and some people are awesome at collaborating and building great academic support networks. But, that just isn’t me. I’m learning, however, that I value having a few trusted colleagues I can turn to, and who can turn to me.
Regardless of where you are in your journey as an academician, failure can always be lurking. Cultivate a cadre of trusted fellow-academics. Reflect on the front end – what’s important to you? If you haven’t experienced academic failure, have you taken proactive steps to avoid it, or has it just not found you yet? Don’t get too caught up in negative possibilities. Be realistic about potential outcomes, and think through how you might react to them.