• Shayna Sheinfeld, Ph.D.

Drowning in your liminality? Listen to this.

A couple weeks ago I published a blog post about Liminality and the Job Market. Here I argued that while the majority of Ph.D.s end up without a tenure-stream job each year (just a quick Google search comes up with numerous reports, both data driven and anecdotal), many are still hoping for one in the future, and thus are existing in a kind of liminal space during the lull between job market seasons.

Just this week Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin of the Gaia Project for Women's Leadership—where my coaching certification comes from—released the latest in her podcast on Women's Leadership on choosing to swim in a period of uncertainty. She urges that in a period where we may be caught up in the stream of our lives, when we have no control over where the water is taking us, that making a choice, even a small one, to swim with the current can help bring some semblance of control back into our lives, and remind us that (this is key!) we are not without choice even in these situations.

Cronise McLaughlin's idea here is essential for academics who rightly feel a lack of control over their lives because of the job market. To make intentional choices in the circumstance that you find yourself in will help you find that you can still have pockets of happiness and joy even if things aren't going the way you planned or expected.

I want to be clear, here. I am not talking about rushing around to get one more thing published or teach one more class, etc. For many in this situation, your C.V.s are already in tip-top shape. If you know you have an area you can improve upon, by all means, go for it. But it is also quite likely that not having a book contract yet is not what is keeping you from getting a job—it's the nature of the job market. So many good—even great—scholars are not landing permanent positions. This is not in our control. This is that stream that Cronise McLaughlin is talking about. She says that "The goal is to choose, in order to find a way through that allows us to have a conscious experience. The process of choosing how we respond can lead to the ability to create our own happiness."

I challenge you today to make an intentional choice and to engage with where you stand right now. It's not easy. But it is empowering.

Listen to the podcast (~18 min) here.

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