Me, the single academic

I’m giving fair warning … I’ve had two glasses of wine and a productive and lovely evening with my advisor. I am about to pontificate wildly.

I am heartbroken. Nothing has changed. Except for the passage of time and that only makes my current state all the more sad. I’ve stopped talking about it, I’ve learned to cover it up better. I actually smile now. But, at the end of the day I am still the girl who cries herself to sleep. I don’t know how to fix that.

At work, I am totally coming into my own. I feel differently about myself. I am in charge. I am, in fear of giving up what generation I grew up in, psyched. For the first time in a very long time, I feel as though I can make a meaningful contribution to my field. I want to talk about what I study. I want to be known in my academic community. For the most part, it’s the project, the new insights, the unanswered questions of biology that have me working on the weekend, early in the morning or late into the night.

But there is another part to it. A part that I don’t ever really want to nod my head to. The part that knows, deep down, that I am able to, beyond willing even, to devote this much time to work, because I am single. That, this drive to be somebody doesn’t in some part stem from the feelings of rejection in my personal life. And simply because I have the time and space in my brain to think about it. That it isn’t otherwise occupied with another being. I feel guilty. I was willing to, happy even, at the prospect of compromising my academic life in the name of love. And, I would have been happy. I know that. I don’t doubt that. But it didn’t work out. Now, I have the potential to reclaim my academic confidence. And I am happy to do that too. No doubt, they are completely different entitities, but is one really better than the other?

So, this is my question: Are the two always mutually exclusive? Will I have to choose the academic, single life, where I can give my intellectual and career needs the time and attention they deserve? Or, will I choose the balanced life, one where life beyond the academic demands time center stage? Nobody ever dies wishing they spent more time at the office. But I have to believe that being an academic is not the same as being a corporate drone (because, certainly, no academic is in it for the money).

Will the stars ever align so that both are feasible? Or is it just an impossible dream that I am deluding myself with?


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