I can see the light (at the end of the tunnel)

Oh hey, remember when I used to blog? Yea that was nice, then dissertation, research, moving, job hunting, and life took over and this got neglected…again. No matter how many times I decide I’m going to return to blogging it just never seems to stick. But alas, here I am again.

First, the exciting news: turns out preparing for the job search paid off and I am thrilled to announce I have accepted a tenure-track position at the University of North Texas in the Department of Radio-TV-Film! I’m so excited to have a job, a hard deadline to finish the dissertation, and to finally know my 11 years of school are ending (and paying off!). I am confident this is the perfect job for me and I feel beyond blessed to have it. I was so impressed with the RTVF department, the College of Arts & Sciences and UNT; they clearly have a vision of where they want to be and part of that vision involves supporting junior faculty in ways many universities do not. I get to create 2 brand new upper division social media courses, which is challenging but so exciting – I can finally teach what I want to teach! This is such a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to joining such a wonderful group of scholars at UNT. And as a cherry on the sundae, I get to be in Dallas with my family, my boyfriend, and his family – it truly is perfect.

As stressful as it was, I learned a lot during the job search process. Anyone who has ever gotten to know a PhD student knows we tend to be riddled with self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and put absurd amounts of pressure on ourselves to succeed. It’s really hard not to compare yourself to others when in grad school. Thankfully my department is very encouraging and supportive so the comparisons aren’t competitive in nature, but rather foster a “am I doing enough?” mindset.

During my graduate career I’ve made deliberate decisions to pursue certain opportunities, conferences, service, etc. but I’ve also opted not to participate in some “expected” conferences and opportunities. As the job search began I couldn’t help but doubt some of these decisions. As I wrote cover letter after cover letter (and started receiving rejections) I began to question my entire research agenda – was it media-centric enough, was it original, was it marketable, did I have enough expertise and credentials to succeed at a research university, etc. etc. etc.? At the end of the day I just had to rest assure that I have pursued what I am passionate about and have constructed my teaching and research in way that fits with my interests, skills, and strengths. In the end it obviously paid off. What I’ve learned is that there is value in self-assessment and pursuing our own strengths and passions even when they don’t necessarily “fit the mold.” A lot of my graduate career was conventional, but other aspects were more deliberately tailored to my research agenda which often transcends media studies as a discipline and it turns out that is ok.

Again, anyone who has ever known a graduate student knows we are planners, big picture goal setters, and possess relentless perseverance. It seems surreal that this chapter in my life is coming to a close but it is so exciting to know the next chapter is already starting. This has been a much more emotional process than I would’ve ever predicted and I’m still processing new reactions on a daily basis. First and foremost I have to push through and finish the dissertation, but unfortunately my mind is already moving forward – onward to planning two brand new classes, onward to my next research project, onward to starting my tenure packet. The lesson I learned this year was to rest with uncertainty (so hard!) and now the lesson I’m striving to learn is to be content with where I am. Yes, I want tenure and yes I have to start thinking about that now. But I am on the verge of completing an 11 year journey of school (omg!) and I need to take the time to enjoy this accomplishment before I start planning my next longterm goal. This is difficult for me (I’m a planner!), but daily I am working and praying that I have contentment with where I am so I can enjoy this chapter before it truly is finished.

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