As I expected, I didn’t get the job. I wasn’t even given the courtesy of a preliminary interview. As much as I thought I was prepared for this, I really wasn’t. The past several days have been a haze of really difficult and complex feelings, but the predominant one is grief.
I grieve because it now feels like something (my whole job experience) I poured myself into for so many years has been a waste of time, and because I wanted so badly for everything to work. The swift rejection from the search committee came with an expected “but we want you to know you are valued.” It was of no comfort at all, and frankly, there is (not just in this one instance) a wide gap between words and actions. I’m tired of it, and I don’t think I can take any more.
At the same time, I’m not sure yet what to do next. I’m already a finalist for the same job at a different institution. While that is nice, it is no guarantee of anything. It is hard, when you are repeatedly told no in various ways, to not doubt yourself or to not expect the same result again. Truthfully, I’m not sure I even want the other job.
If you can’t tell, I am in a really, really difficult place that will take time to get through. I wish I knew what will be next and that there will be something better for me somewhere, somehow. I can only trust in the Lord, and I’m trying to do that even with a heavy heart and a sense of despair. The despair comes from realizing that I am late in my career and windows of opportunity are rare or are closing. I just wish for once that I worked in an environment where I truly felt at home and where I am truly valued. I thought that place might be a Christian liberal arts college, and spent eight years trying to realize that dream. But it has proven instead to be one of the worst experiences of a thirty year career.
In more positive news, I am reaching the end of the semester and am really happy about how the current class I’m teaching at a nearby graduate library school has turned out. Final papers and presentations have been excellent, by and large. As one student put it, listening to peer presentations on various topics is like attending a professional conference for free. Many of the students are going through a lot of turmoil and difficulty on a personal level and my heart goes out to them, but they have persisted. Also, my next class has already wildly exceeded projected enrollment for the Spring semester. While I am thankful for that, I also know that means a huge amount of work on my shoulders.