Friday, June 15, 2007

It's been a long time...

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled
It's been a long time since I did the stroll
Oh baby, let me get back, Let me get back,
Let me get back, Baby where I come from
It's been a long time, Been a long time
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time
Yes it has...

Apologizes to Led Zeppelin, but I know I've been a bad blogger. There's no real excuse, but a lot of things have been going on, some busy, some I wasn't ready to talk about. Of course, after awhile things get away from you and you feel guilty. I mean, why should I feel guilty about not blogging or worse yet HAVING to blog, but I was, so it continued to build. Then the other day I was talking to some bloggers I met at a networking function and they convinced me it was okay. I could go back. And so here I am. There have been things I have wanted to blog about, but hadn't logged on because I thought readers needed to know why I hadn't been blogging. So here it goes:

Life has been crazy.

Okay, no excuse, we all have crazy lives, but for awhile my life was crazy busy and got away from me. Then I started a period of transition and now, well, I don't know, I'm just here.

It started in February with an email from a PR agency I've done work for in the past, asking if I could spare some hours for a week. It was a week where nothing major was going on at school, I there wasn't a test to write or project to grade or anything like that, so I said yes, I could give them about 20 hours for the week. That 20 hours turned into almost 2 months, working 25-30 hours a week. I would get up at 5:15, leave the house at 6:15, drive 50 minutes to San Marcos, do what I needed to prep for that day, teach class at 8 a.m., teach another class, have office hours and leave campus at 12:15. I'd drive to downtown Austin and work most evenings until 6:30, sometimes 7 or later, often being the last one to leave the office, and head home, lucky if I could squeeze in a 30 minute workout. Then it was home, dinner and anything I needed to do to prep for class the next day, fall exhausted into bed and start all over. It was like this four days a week; Fridays were easy, it was working 8 hours a day at the agency. Weekends were spent grading and doing class prep. Blogging was the last thing I wanted.

Then in mid-April it was suddenly over. The crazy client I was working on changed its mind on some things and the agency figured out how to offload some of the work I was doing to another office. While I really liked the money, making almost double working part-time what I did teaching full-time, I also didn't mind that they didn't need me. It was two weeks until the end of the semester and student projects were due and finals were coming up. It was my busiest time of the semester.

So mid-April, I'd been doing PR work and getting paid well for about 2 months and I realized I missed the work. Yes, there was a lot of BS to deal with from clients, but at least I got paid to deal with it. On the teaching side, it's mid-April, I loved my students and loved being in the classroom, but still hadn't been asked to come back in the fall. For 2 months they knew they needed someone but as as the director told me, it was like the movie Sophie's Choice and she was "choosing not to choose." Such is the life of an instructor. Unless I got that PhD and got on tenure track, my future would be uncertain. There was also a lot of non-classroom BS to deal with, only I didn't get paid to deal with it, and quite honestly I was very disheartened, disenchanted and frustrated.

Last day of class. I'm like a proud parent, watching my students present their projects to their clients. I'm sad, as I know I may not see some of them again. The campaigns class is graduating and I have no idea if I'll be back the following year. Finally, on that day, I get asked if I want to come back the next year and say I need to think about it. And think I did, especially as the next day I had an interview with one of the top tech PR firms. I spent a week with a constant headache, trying to weigh my options. It was made more difficult when I didn't get the job at the firm.

Do I stay with what I know that is safe, although I am frustrated, or do I take a chance for something more? I thought about all the times I played it safe and how it really didn't work out like I hoped. I thought about what I try to teach my students about taking chances and going for it and following their dreams. I decided that it was best if I left the university, at least as full-time faculty, and let the school know my decision. I did offer to teach one or two classes a semester, particularly at night, and they accepted. This was the day of my last final. I packed my office and left, saying goodbye to hardly anyone because it would be too hard.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that for the first few weeks I had a lot of cognitive dissonance, or wonder whether I did the right thing, especially when I heard that the PhD they hired to start in the fall bailed on them, leaving them down two PR instructors. I also felt a little bit of a loss of identity. Who was I, if not an instructor at the university? Let's face it, what little they pay is made up by prestige.

But now things are picking up for me. For the last month I've been networking like crazy, meeting new people and attending events. Things that they always say you should be doing, but let's face it, for three years I've been locked in an ivory tower between grad school and teaching and making it back to Austin for a networking lunch hasn't been feasible. I look at my calendar for this month and almost every day has something; next week I have a meeting every night and have lunch appointments almost every day. In between times, I'm meeting with companies that may want to offer me a job or at least some freelance work. And believe it or not, I have turned down some offers (especially for freelance work), because it wasn't right. I have to have the belief that the right thing will happen for me.

So what I have learned from all this? First, you don't have to settle. Second, you have to believe in your own worth and stand up for it. Third, people are nice and friends are important. And finally, you can go blog again.


Anonymous said...

Good to have you back. Follow your dreams!

Unc in Cal

Anonymous said...

Loved reading your blog, Dara! CONGRATS! Usually the scariest things are the ones most worth it!! Keep us updated as to what you run into. I put your blog page in my favorites~

Nikki Linzey

Anonymous said...

Delighted you've found the opportunity to update, at least! Great to finally know what you've been doing. I'm sure you're doing the right thing--you definitely rock!

Auntie M