I can't sleep.
I think sometimes that I'm somewhat self-defeating, at least mentally if not materially. For instance, tonight I spent an hour reading Invisible Adjunct's blog, in which the utter impossibility of even a tenure-track position, much less tenure itself, is hammered into the head of the hapless humanities grad student. Discouraging, to say the least. I'm an academic, and as such, my way of coping with fear is to educate myself to the brim about the subject of that fear, hoping that in knowledge lies power. But not in this case. The Goblin King won't disappear this time. (A cookie to anyone who catches the reference.)
See... I want to be a professor. It's What I Want To Do With My Life. I want to teach and I want to research and publish. But I also want to make a living wage at it, and eventually be able to take a sabbatical, and have at least some job security and a pension and all the other things that normal full-time employees have. And the thought of having a contract job my entire working life puts the fear of God into me. I'm doing all I can to make sure that I don't fall into the permanent-adjunct trap. I have a fully-funded fellowship at my school of choice, which is not Oxbridge but is a fairly prestigious school with a very good reputation; I published my first refereed journal article before I finished my MA, and have plenty more on the horizon. By all accounts, I'm doing very well.
See, the thing is, I have no idea how many other people have similar or better qualifications to my own. I don't know how they make the decisions as to who to hire. I don't know how many publications I need by the time I get my PhD to be competitive for jobs - is it three? Seven? 15? How much does teaching matter? How much does it matter that I'll still be in my mid-twenties when I start my job search? How much does it matter - like, really matter, not equal-opportunities matter - that I'm a young married woman of childbearing age? How completely bloody random is it?
I, like all other academics I know, am afflicted with the disease of perfectionism; in my case, it combines with a fear of uncertainty to make that nasty chimera, the abject terror of failure. Even nastier because ultimately, there's nothing I can do about it. I can publish and teach and stay up late blogging and run myself ragged all I want, but the fact remains that I may yet fail. And if I do, I know that I will blame myself, even if it really is no fault of my own.
Is it really as bad as the Invisible Adjunct makes it seem?