Since starting the Denver HERS Institute, I have been reading many of the on-line resources recommended to us. From time to time I wonder whether my experiences in higher education are unique. Today’s answer was a resounding NO.
I came across an advice column, written in the Miss Manners, Dear Gentle Reader, tone.
I was reading this post and found myself laughing out loud at this section of Ms. Mentor’s response to one troubled inquirer:
Academe harbors many talented, pot-stirring, highly verbal, and articulate meddlers. Most often they are bored, midlife associate professors who find teaching no longer interesting or challenging, and who have lost whatever ambitions they once had for research. They may have failed to get grant money, or their articles may have been repeatedly rejected for publication. They measure out their lives in passionless meetings, full of repetition and posturing. Once upon a time, they found their low salaries, troubled students, and squalid offices galvanizing, even enraging. Now such things are deadening, part of a life of quiet desperation, until . . . Hark!
Strangers have come to town. Two young, female strangers. Excitement and diversion looms. What if they’re set against each other? Won’t the fur fly?
The subtle and not-so-subtle posturing that academia can require at times causes me to grind my teeth. The rewards can be infinitesimally small and yet the jockeying for that one iota of extra power never seems to end. One must be constantly on guard against those who enjoy such games. As you might guess, I do not. At times it seems to me to be a complicated dance. Deflect the attacks in such a way that the attacker does not necessarily realize that you are onto his/her game, perhaps you have just stepped aside inadvertently so they will perhaps be patient in lining up their next assault.
Yesterday I made the decision to trust someone new fully. I was completely open and honest. This can be a dangerous thing in life and especially in academia where so many carry hidden agendas waiting for the right moment to initiate them. This person is in a position to either help me or crush me like a small insect. It seemed like the right thing at the time. Time will tell.