Tenure. It's the goal we're shooting for, right? The five(ish) year race to show you can make a go of things on your own and produce some money for the university that floated you that small business loan* in the first place. Really, it's the final true make-or-break point for this profession, after which you are afforded some job security now that you have fought through probably close to two decades without that commodity.
I recently got my departmental letter in support of my tenure case that will soon be sent to the Dean and fed further up the food chain. It was good. Unanimous support, solid excerpts from external letters, praise for my work in all three phases of the tenure pie. Whereas I won't get any official word on tenure until late in the spring, so far all the proper hoops have been jumped. I'm happy.
But I'm also exhausted.
I don't know whether having tenure, assuming it is bestowed, is going to change my outlook. Will I let some things slide? Will I take on more in service of the department? Will I say no more? I can't see that far ahead. What I do know is that I'll need to find some time to back away a little bit. Maybe I can now, not sure, but I fully understand why a sabbatical** is usually a feature that follows tenure. At this point I would settle for one deadline-free month to read and think.
It's almost cliché for people to tell you that getting tenure is like a marathon, but there's a reason that you can google "marathon finish collapse" and be treated to hundreds of videos of people stumbling across (or not quite) the finish line. The will power to push through the end doesn't extend indefinitely.
And I didn't the finish line fatigue coming.
I've always been one to avoid focusing in tenure as an end point, but rather something that will happen if I do my job well. That seems to have worked out, but the idea of a pat on the back while being handed another committee responsibility*** isn't exactly the post tenure outlook I was picturing. But so it goes.
At least I can stop wearing pants to the office.
*Sure, they call it start-up, but same-same.
**Unfortunately, mine will be more than a year away.
***Or maybe it's a test to see if I will use the tenure power, vested in me, to say no.