In Like a Lion …

bannerfans_18766304I know that I keep promising to post about how I used the KonMari Method to tidy my clothes, shoes, and accessories. I also know that I keep saying that I’m going to blog more and that I’ll be more present in the blogsphere by commenting on blogs that I follow. Obviously, none of this has happened.   It’s not like I don’t have time to blog, I do. Hell, I scheduled every Tuesday morning to write a post. And it’s not like I have writer’s block or anything because I’m writing like a fiend for my classes. Finally, it’s not like I don’t want to blog or be active in the blogosphere, because I do. So what’s going on here?

The simple answer: everything I am and everything I know is in flux. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that I am absolutely certain: I adore Ed and our relationship is wonderful. I’m thrilled to be back in NYC. I’m settling into the my new course of study and just volunteered for a seriously cool archival and curatorial project. I’m planning my garden. Pumpkin and Moo are doing well considering that they are both 13. I’m looking forward to camping and Salem this year. And I’m completely over-the-moon that we have tickets for Wagner’s The Ring Cycle … finally!

Yet, once again, I’m in a state of “transformation” and “becoming.” I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about my decision to “quit” the professoriate. I worked so hard to get to that point! I poured my entire being into my Ph.D. and being an academic-professor-looking-for-a-tenure-track-gig person. It was who I am. Leaving it and a full-time teaching gig is terrifying. While the criticism has been minimal, I, personally, criticize myself horribly. I sometimes wonder if I’m a joke, or if I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to “hack it.” I don’t even know what that means! Seriously, am I good enough or strong enough to endure giving 200% 24/7? Am I a joke because I refuse to sell my soul to academia? Am I crazy for walking away from a full-time gig when so many of my colleagues are struggling to find one? Am I just being lazy? Or do I secretly suck? Wanna know a secret? This is why I haven’t submitted any writing to journals for review. I’m absolutely terrified that I’m going to learn that my research sucks and that I’m not good enough. It’s crippling.

I guess in some ways I’m mourning who I was. I’ve even considered changing the name of my blog because I’m no longer a professor. But to what? Who the hell am I? Why do I constantly define myself by these outside identifiers? And most importantly, why do some of these identifiers feel more prestigious — and therefore worthy — than others? Don’t get me wrong, deep down I know that I made the right decision to leave the professoriate to pursue an object-based career. So why do I feel like a failure? Why am I mourning? It makes no sense.

And let’s talk about another reason why I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t a friggin clue what to write about! I know I’ve written about this before and then a bunch of comments followed, all encouraging me to just “do me.” But you know, how do I “do me” when “me” isn’t the “me” that folks have been following for years? Or maybe, I’m more “me” then ever before and I fear that some readers will be disappointed? I guess I’m going through another bout of growing pains … at 46. sigh. Changing and growing and learning never stops, my friends.

Maybe … just maybe … it’s time to not care what everyone thinks? Maybe it’s time to accept “me” — the deep, messy, beautiful, weirdly artsy, super intelligent, awkward me? I mean, I’ve been having this conversation with “me” for 46 years. Sure, I say that I’m a firebrand who doesn’t give a jot what someone thinks; but deep down, I’m that quiet, weird, artsy bookworm in the 6th grade who was relentlessly teased. I’m that sensitive kid who just couldn’t understand why people are so mean. I still can’t figure out why folks are still mean, nasty bullies. I don’t get why people pride themselves on being a “bitch” when being kind, empathetic, and giving makes the world a better place.

My devil-may-care attitude and my punk rockness was most definitely a coping mechanism. I wasn’t going to change to fit in, so I went to the extreme. They didn’t want me, so fuck them. I’m glad I did, but here I am at 46 … still that quiet, weird kid who is “over-sensitive.” I’m still the kid who needs confirmation that I’m on the right track and that I’m ok. I need to know that someone is there with hugs or an encouraging word.

Sometimes I talk to “little Franny.” I tell her that she’s going to be ok and that I didn’t do so bad. Sometimes I hear her point out that we’re still the quiet, weird, artsy bookworm … yes, yes we are. It breaks my heart that I have to tell her that we’re still being picked on and that people are still mean to us. It breaks my heart to tell her that I’m scared to death of being alone. I kills me to tell her that all of the crazy hair colors, wild clothes, and rebellion didn’t help her self-esteem or self-acceptance. Oh sure, it made her stronger. It helped her to find her voice and gave her the space to grow. But, it didn’t heal the damage already done. In some ways it made it worse.

I wonder what she would think of me right now. Hell, I don’t even know what to think of me right now. Would she think I was still “cool” now that I stripped the black out of my hair and I’m letting my bangs grow? Would she approve of the fact that I’m drawing again? Would she be happy knowing that I’m trying to let in more light, more flowers, more critters, more non-creepy things? I don’t know.

I really don’t know.

 

 

  22 comments for “In Like a Lion …

  1. L.
    1 Mar 2019 at 1:06 pm

    I’m someone out here for whom everything is in flux and transformation too, at an age and life very similar to yours. Voices like yours are more important than you may know, that’s all I can say. ❤

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:31 am

      Hi L., thank you for this! I wonder if it’s our age? Maybe we’re becoming more of who we are and less of the mask everyone expects? If that’s the case, I say bring it on. Good luck … and reach out if you ever want to chat.

      Like

  2. 1 Mar 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Beautiful bit of introspection. Thank you for pulling back the curtain.

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:33 am

      Thanks! Oh, this is very common for me. I did this kind of stuff on my other blogs all the time. I’m not one to hide behind a construction.

      Like

  3. Marcy
    1 Mar 2019 at 2:00 pm

    She’d look at you the way she once looked at the woman with the Liberty spikes and say, “Wow. I wanna be just like you when I grow up.” 😘

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:33 am

      HA! Oh Marcy, you’re such a great sister-friend! MUAH!

      Like

  4. 1 Mar 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I think you’re cool, always! And honestly seeing someone I think of as a big sister *still* having these feelings and fluctuations and changes and being so open about it is SO REFRESHING.
    “Growing up” isn’t a step on the ladder, we are always growing and learning and changing ❤

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:35 am

      A big sister? Aw, that’s a really great compliment. Thank you. Yeah, you know I’ve never been one to construct identities and personas. Right now, I’m in flux. That’s who I am.

      Like

  5. 1 Mar 2019 at 4:09 pm

    “Seriously, am I good enough or strong enough to endure giving 200% 24/7?” Absolutely nobody on the face of the earth can do that. Nobody can even give 100% 24/7 to their career — not if they also aspire to having a private life and some measure of personal work/life balance. After a lifetime of being in the professional workforce (now retired), I can say with confidence, from my own observation, that most people give maybe 75%, max. And many give far less than that and do just fine in their careers. My point is that having unrealistic expectations of yourself and putting undue pressure on yourself is not doing you any favours. It’s time to adjust both of those factors. As they say, “a career is a marathon, not a sprint.”

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:40 am

      Unfortunately, much of academia — especially at the tenure-track, full time teaching, publishing level — expects this kind of commitment. I know many academics who don’t have a personal life and forget about the work-life balance. It’s the reality of non-tenure, striving to make a splash academics in all disciplines.

      This is part of the reason why I left. There is no division between “what you do at work” and the “work you do at home.” Most of us got into academia because we really love to research, read, and write. What ends up happening is that our love becomes just another cog in the wheel of our academic “career” and it sucks.

      I want to do important things … and archives seems to be a perfect fit. More on that later. 🙂

      Like

  6. 1 Mar 2019 at 4:13 pm

    You are asking yourself if you are a joke. But you actually answer your question by admitting that you need confirmation that you are on the right track. Maybe you didn’t get that confirmation from your boss, that you needed to continue. Im convinced that a person, like you, whom is so passionate about her work is surely an expert in every inch of what she does.
    Is this process something with our age? I’m also in a very reflective mode about myself and the direction I will walk.
    I think it is important to reflect over ourself from time to time, in this way, we can grow and complete ourselves.
    I promise I won’t stop reading your blog. Be just yourself ❤

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:44 am

      It’s not just my boss — that’s only one aspect of the whole picture. It’s academia as a whole. The weird thing is that the minute I said I was leaving to pursue something else folks started to give me that “pat on the back” that I craved. I have no idea why. Why now? Is it because I’m no longer “competition”? I have no idea.

      It must be our age. We’re at our halfway point, that is if we live to a ripe old age of 90. We may be past our halfway point. Why be miserable? Why be something you’re not?

      Like

  7. Eve
    2 Mar 2019 at 10:10 am

    I’ve been following your blogs for a while now (since The Dancing Maenad if not before!) and I think you are wonderful. I can really relate to being the quiet, weird, sensitive one. And the sense of not really fitting in anywhere apart from the space you make for yourself. I think you’re really brave for leaving academia and trying to make a better life for yourself, whatever that looks like

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:46 am

      Hi Eve! Thank you for reaching out and letting me know this. I like hearing from long time readers because we’ve been through so much together. Sending a lot of weird, sensitive hugs. 🙂

      Like

  8. 2 Mar 2019 at 1:33 pm

    First, I adore you. Second, I think it’s interesting that I just made a post about Little Sharon and then yours about little Franny. I wish you could internalize all the amazing comments that others have said here.

    I have had my work published and recently I just submitted a chapter proposal for a Public History book. I was rejected and was feeling mopey. I never think anything I do is good enough. I’m wired that way and I live in fear all-the-time. It’s just who I am. My fella responded to my fussing with “Or maybe they already have a piece about a course on cemeteries?” He continually talks about his own writing or acting and rejections in the frame of “maybe it or I remind them of their ex-husband. I cannot do anything about it if they look at me or read my work and they think of Frank or Joe or Steve” so it isn’t YOU, it’s your work. And even if they don’t want your work, it does in no way mean your work is not amazing. They may have something similar or not understand it. Point being, you’re not alone. You’re just being honest by saying it.

    Can’t hack academia? Are you kidding me? You should get a gold star for saying, “this is bullshit” and walking away. I have colleagues who perpetuate that stereotype of being a professor as being so prestigious and a PhD is so fancy. Yeah, there are some perks but it’s there’s a whole lot of bullshit as you know. Your posts remind me that it’s never too late to do something you’ve always wanted to do, and to try something new. You model life-long learning. I think that’s a beautiful thing.

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:52 am

      Thanks Sharon! I have to disagree with you on one point: it IS my work … well, at least the type of work I do. The art historians don’t want it. It doesn’t focus on the canon, it’s not their kind of theory, it’s left of center. Why study “crap art”? Why look at pictures in a kid’s magazine? A good portion of art historians believe that I’m not even doing art history. I get the “oh, you’re a visual culture historian. So are you a historian or a lit person?” It’s made publishing a monumental task. It’s never been my research or writing. It’s never how I string thoughts together. They admit that it’s pretty brilliant … it’s just not “art history.” And for that, I’ve been excluded on purpose … so I’m leaving.

      Like

  9. Lainey
    4 Mar 2019 at 11:08 pm

    I don’t think you’re a joke. I think that we all struggle with our identity and what that really means. And I’d like to hear more on you deal with this flux because I’m also feeling something similar. It’s something inside that seems to have shifted. Not for the worse, or the better, just different.
    I feel like I’m not the person I have been in recent years, but still also feel like… my real self. It’s so hard to put into words. Even my satorial aesthetic has changed some, and I’m questioning who I really am and what do iI want? Is it getting older? Something in the air? Will I feel this way for long, are we ever really “done”?
    Anyway, I’m rambling but am hoping that you find some footing while you’re floating, and that if you feel like sharing-I will be reading.
    Take Care (hug)

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:54 am

      WOW! Maybe it is the aging process, or maybe it’s something in the air? Have you read everyone else’s comments? It’s so nice to know that we’re all in this together. It’s nice to see that I’m not alone in all of this.

      Thank you, Lainey!

      Like

  10. 8 Mar 2019 at 1:16 am

    I’m STILL struggling with the “too sensitive” thing! At my age!!! I really think it’s why I don’t blog anymore (even though I had the very best followers) and am hardly ever on Facebook – too worried about whether what I’m putting out there is entertaining enough. And yet I don’t feel that pressure on IG, for whatever reason.

    In hindsight, I know that not finishing my Fine Arts degree, never managing to get to Art College and not completing a lot of the rest of the goals I’d set for myself but never followed through on could have made me any happier with my life than I am right now. What I have learned lately though, is to move on to the next thing quicker when the thing I’m currently doing isn’t making me happy anymore!

    It’s just another shift in your life, Franny. Enjoy it for however long it lasts. 💜

    Oh PS – that wrong bra size thing is an eye-opener, isn’t it?!?!? lol

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 10:59 am

      Lynne, thank you for sharing all of this with me. I can’t believe that you worry about being “entertaining” and that you worried about your blog! I’ve always thought you were incredibly talented, witty, and awesome. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that we cherish words. Words hold weight. Instagram is instant gratification … words take time to construct, time to read and digest. Words are powerful.

      As for the bra size … HOLY FRIGGIN CRAP! I can’t believe I’ve been wearing the wrong size my whole damned life.

      Like

  11. 18 Mar 2019 at 5:24 pm

    I totally get the worries and feelings of failure (I’m almost 50 and am probably never going to earn a PhD or be more than an adjunct in academia and I want to just KICK THE ASS of 20-year-old me who couldn’t get it together). And oh myyyy the mean kids I remember from 6th grade! Always so shocking to me that people would spend effort doing that. Now I recognize that it’s some pain they are experiencing inside that causes that behavior — but it still hurts to receive it.

    Personally I read blogs and other social media pages because I’m interested in the person and what they are interested in, not any specific identifier like “professor”. Goth Professor Franny was super interesting; Less-Goth Grad Student Franny is too.

    And yeah, you’re not a failure for deciding academia was not worth the pain. You’re a badass for doing what was right for you.

    Like

    • Franny
      20 Mar 2019 at 11:05 am

      Thanks! You know, I can’t believe that people can still be so nasty and mean. Those bullies still exist and they’re in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. I’m always floored when grown people act like schoolyard creeps — my brother, case in point. The crap he pulled when my Mom died was exactly the same strong-arm, bullying tactics he used growing up … maybe more refined and narcissistic (and gas lighting).

      Well, this Franny is all over the place these days. I hope I don’t make you dizzy! HA! Hopefully, I’ll settle into a routine and get comfy with this new path. I can tell already that I’m really going to like it … at least archival preservation, conservation, and curation. More on that later. 🙂

      Like

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