So...perhaps some of you are wondering, given my past complaints about the academy, if all those years of grad school and on the job market, not to mention adjunct work, were worth it. I've had occasion to think about this today, as I reflect back about a decade on the devastating manner in which one grad school professor commented on my paper, which nearly led me to quit grad school. I also thought of the many friends who did quit grad school, convinced that it was no longer worth their time and money to be abused by faculty (in some cases) or the system of State Universities of New York (in all cases). And, I thought of others I've seen beat down to the point that quitting becomes the only way to make the pain stop.
I've been at this job for about six weeks now, so I'm still learning the ropes. However, I think it's not too early to say -
Yes, it was worth it.
I reserve the right to complain about faculty workloads and pay and all sorts of other things, including grading. I also am not gloating, here - I still think the job market sucks, and I still want to work to overhaul this system.
I also came pretty close to leaving the academy, the big question being, what would I do instead? The answers I came up with - teaching dance and writing - were fun and fulfilling, but they didn't exactly help me pay my rent. And I still maintain that the academy, in general, is often harmful to one's psychological and physical health. (I know too many completely exhausted junior faculty on Prozac.)
But for the first time, I am finally in a position to do the work I know I can do, to use my talents as fully as I want to.
And it feels pretty good.