Stepping Into Work

April 21, 2024 – Reorganizing and Renavigating

Grades are submitted. My marking is done. The term has ended. I can breathe… for a moment. I do have a portfolios to review and a project to complete, but I’ll start that next week. It’s nice to take a moment to pause before I jump into the next term. I can see the workload mounting, much of it self-induced, but I’m not complaining. It’s my non-teaching term; my first one (for the most part) after 5-years at the university. As grateful as I am for this time, having 4 courses to teach in both the fall and winter terms was challenging too. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to shift geers and “work.” It’s my time to be intentional with my writing, research agenda, and academic conferences.

The other day, I had a conversation with a colleague. It was good to reconnect and catch up. In that conversation, I mentioned my current work situation and my friend asked me if I was ok it. This was a good question. Honestly, I am ok with it. It took me 5-years to figure out how the system worked, how I was positioned and perceived in my department, and what I need to do to succeed in higher education. If anything, the workplace was a culture shift along with moving to a new city and experiencing many life changes over the last 5-years. There was little empathy for what was happening behind the scenes. For many years, I felt unsettled, unclear, and uncertain. I had to shift my mindset and figure out who I am and what’s important to me.

It took some time and the dust has settled. Major life events have come and gone. I am happy. I understand my research agenda and I am very excited to embark on that path of learning. I love teaching and I am so grateful to continue to teach in addition to learn from the students and practice. I am much kinder and compassionate to myself. And, I know my value. Knowing all of this, I am able to create boundaries, know what to say and when, and connect with folks who are in my wheelhouse. I have no one to impress. I suppose that this is one of the reasons why I sought programs like graduate studies to enrol in. I was never satisfied. I wrote about taking more coursework in my last blog post. This week, I am having second thoughts.

To be honest, there will be a day I might consider enrolling in the graduate certificate program for ethnomathematics at the University of Hawaii for the purpose of pure JOY and happiness. The place and program are so aligned to who I am and what I would love to study. Other than this program, I don’t need a second masters or doctorate degree. Just the other day, I was doing some math with respect to my age and I want to spend my time in ways that bring my joy. That’s it. I’m not disputing whether there are going to be up or down days. That’s a given. What I am saying is, how do I want to spend the last 10-years (or so) of my career? This thought-provoking question was also posed to me by another colleague. It’s something to consider.

After 5-years, I am finally ready to work. Yes, I have always been working, but I always had “schooling” looming in the back of my mind. I often wonder about medical doctors or dentists who took many years of schooling to understand their craft, now are just working. Like teachers and academics, I’d expect them to engage in professional development, but in terms of schooling, most are done. They are working and getting better at their craft from their work. In fact, most people do that… I mean, work. Seems reasonable. I just could never comprehend the transition from formal education to just work (even though I’ve been doing it for many years). It’s a commitment to make that transition. I think I’m finally there. I am READY.

Admittedly, this is a new feeling for me. I feel liberated, empowered, and yes… joyful.