Big Dreams

How’s everyone doing so far this year? It’s been a minute since I’ve posted because I found I needed time to adjust to the spring semester schedule. Remind me to blog about navigating periods of transition sometime. Today’s blog is about making big plans, dreaming big dreams, for your academic (or professional) life. I’m inspired by this Academic Writing Amplified podcast, this youtuber, and some tweets I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I’ve written about this before, but I didn’t really go through my academic career with any kind of long-term plan. Other than “finish the phd” and “get a TT job,” I really didn’t think big thoughts about what kind of research I wanted to do, what kind of community work I wanted to engage with, or what kind of teacher I wanted to be. Like many of us who were/are in graduate school and/or the job market in the past 10 years, I largely floated along from thing to thing trying to twist my spine whenever a new opportunity presented itself so that I could fit inside it and ride it out in case it was my last and best chance to be successful in this career. Operating from a place of scarcity really doesn’t encourage dreaming big dreams.

Last year I remember seeing a tweet (although I can’t find it now) in which the tweeter shared that they write down (maybe on their CV?) which journals they want to publish in and have immense satisfaction when they are able to check them off or fill out the whole citation. What I remember most is the comments on that post. Some praised the idea of being so open and honest with yourself about what you want. Others replied that it would stress them out beyond belief to place that kind of pressure on themselves. Myself, I was so unused to dreaming big dreams about my academic future that I was like “Hm, people really think about this? In advance?” Most of my publishing experience up until then had been because of my awesome network of friends and colleagues who let me know when this or that CFP/Special Collection/etc. might be a good fit for whatever I was working on. It never occurred to me to make a list of academic dreams.

Tweet from Angel Jones, PhD says: I just submitted a manuscript to a journal that I believe is out of my league, but I did it anyway because I refuse to self-reject. Moving forward, I will continue to unapologetically shoot my academic shot.

That is until last semester when I used Academic Writing Month to finish a WIP and submit it to one of my dream journals. I was definitely anxious about it, but also elated and proud even though I don’t yet know the outcome. The youtuber I linked above (Ellie Mackin Roberts) draws a bunch of empty, floating balloons, each one representing a line she’ll add that year to her CV. Raul Pacheco-Vega writes about long-term research trajectories (side note: both Ellie and Raul were inspired by Karen Kelsky). It helps to make time to think about your research themes (and/or your professional activities) and draw up a project pipeline. But I realize now that this is not enough.

You also need to dream big dreams. The biggest dreams that you can dream. Let them be your anchor, compass, sail ⛵️ Don’t be embarrassed of wanting, dreaming, planning. It’s true that it might not happen for you. It’s true that all the CV balloons and 5 year research plans in the world aren’t going to solve the problems you may be facing in academia (or with late stage capitalism more broadly).

But you deserve to dream big dreams, to want what seems impossible. You deserve to shoot your shot.

What big dreams do you have for yourself? Let me know in the comments.

ALSO, I want to share that I am hosting some livestreams on Twitch every Monday 2pm or 3pm EST and Wednesday 1-3pm EST. Monday stream is my attempt to make time for hobbies. Wednesday is a Write With Me live. Come join me next week!

Stay tuned for more posts this year about teaching, research, and academia. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @litambitions and Instagram: @ecacademic (where I really nerd out about planning). You can also follow this blog (see the email subscribe button on the home page). Btw, I am happy to announce that I recently launched a biweekly podcast called Vita Abundantior in which I conduct interviews with awesome women and ask them how they go about living such abundant lives (avail on all major streaming platforms). Next episode is dropping on February 13th 2022!

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