February 12, 2013

FAQ about Joy's Resignation

I've written posts about my resignation from Lawrence (ChoicesBe Brave, Born Joy), but now seems appropriate to answer frequently asked questions. Indeed, there's no drama; there's no mystery. There's just a woman listening to herself and making a change. 

FAQ about Joy's resignation

Are you moving?
No, Mark and I will stay in Appleton, at least for the short term. We treasure our friends, our community, and we love our house (I'm fully nested). There's no reason to move right now. 

Are you sick?
No, I feel great and I'm in excellent health.

Are you upset in some way with Lawrence? 
Absolutely not--Lawrence will always hold a special place in my heart. (I'm deeply grateful to my students.) I'm not mad or upset. In the last 14 years I've done meaningful work at Lawrence, and I'll always treasure those memories, especially my experiences with the students. (And I welcome correspondence from former students and colleagues. I'm leaving Lawrence, but I'm not leaving life.)

Are you sure you're not going to some other college?
Actually, I'm stepping away from academics. No more college teaching; no more statistics.

Will you get a different job in statistics that pays tons of money?
No, I'm leaving the field of statistics; it no longer holds my interest (and doesn't bring me happiness). Perhaps there's money to be made in the statistics profession, but I'm not chasing it.

Do you regret going to graduate school? 
Not at all. In graduate school I learned how to learn. Separate from my gained knowledge of statistics, I grew tremendously as a person and a student of life. The extra years in school provided me a safe space to build my confidence and find my own path. That path is changing, but I have no regrets.
 Are you really sure about your decision? You're giving up tenure and you can't get that back; are you sure you won't change your mind?
Yes, I'm sure. This is a big decision, but I'm completely at peace. In fact, I don't think there's been a decision in my life where I've felt this much peace. I know this is the right choice for me. I need to move on to something new; it's a natural part of my life path.

You exude excitement in the classroom--how can you say you've lost your passion for teaching?
Whatever I do, I do with my whole heart. So while I'm still in the classroom, I'll be there fully and exude excitement. But at the end of each day I'm tired. This tiredness has come every day for a few years.  Things for which I'm passionate give me energy; they don't drain my energy. This job is draining me. That said, while I'm still at Lawrence working with students I will do so with my whole heart. I will not hold anything back. (BTW, there are many ways to teach. I think I'll be a life-long teacher, just not in front of the classroom.)

Will you travel?
I have no current travel plans. There's a piece of me that wants to immerse in another culture--to travel and experience. Perhaps this will happen in some organic way. But it's not necessary for my happiness.

What's your next career?
Honestly, I don't know. When I'm done at Lawrence, I want to leave space to not know; to not jump at the next thing that might bring me safety and income. This is unusual for me--my typical path is to plan (planning makes me feel like I have control). So I'm purposefully putting myself in an uncomfortable place. I want to leave space to really listen to my inner voice, apart from all the identities I've acquired over the years.

But you must have an inkling, some seed of an idea?
Yes (she says very tentatively). I enjoy writing. I'd like to give my writing some serious attention and care. I'd like to stay out of the traditional workplace for a while. But otherwise, I really don't know. And I want to stay open to everything.

Are you scared?
Sure, I feel fear in response to uncertainty. But more importantly, I feel completely alive. With any risk comes the chance of failure. Yet I trust in myself--in my gifts, skills, creativity, and self-awareness. I feel more excited than scared; more at peace that at odds. It's really all okay. 

[If interested, you can read more explanation in my baccalaureate speech.]


  1. Congratulations again on making this big decision. You are brave. I'm confident that not matter what you choose to do, it will be wonderful in many unpredictable ways.

    Thanks for sharing Joy!


    1. Yes, wonderful in unpredictable ways--thanks, Joanna!

  2. ". . . apart from all the identities I have acquired over the years." Makes me think of Helen Chapman as one of your very early identities. Whatever happened to Helen anyway? Or is that painful territory?

    1. Oh, dad, those make-believe roles I took as a young child are not painful territory. Indeed, I think that was helpful expression for me. Helen Chapman and Annie the Puppy Dog--were there others? It was freeing for me to be someone else for a while. And I'm glad I could entertain the family.

  3. Hi Joy,

    Interesting to read your reflections. I am leaving an academic job of almost 10 years [a grant-funded position that is no longer being funded], and at this moment, don't know what I'm going to do, but it's more of a lack of opportunities in the area I live than anything else. So, I feel more like I'm having a mid-life crisis than feeling at peace with anything. I'm scared, but would like not to be scared [when I'm in my "Zen Buddhist" moments, which are not that often!]. I've never not had a job, and my future looks tentative at best. I'd like to say "Oh, well, I'll manage because I always have" but it doesn't feel that secure. I am also frustrated because I feel that with a Ph.D. I should be earning more than I am [or have been]. I've tried to figure out what's next, I see jobs I think I 'should' apply for [for money or 'security' illusory as that is], but don't want to... it feels like a very tough place to be in, and I never imagined that I would be in this place! What? Me? No way! I have to consider my economic situation since I don't have a partner/husband, as well. I wonder what others in my situation would do or have done... I don't really have that many people who are in or have been in my situation to talk about it, so that's difficult as well. I've been considering writing, as well as a number of other things, but nothing seems all that attractive to me at the moment. So, I'd like to be open, as well, but that sounds easier [to me, anyway] than to actually do it... Again, interesting to read your reflections and the changes you've made. Not saying that you should or shouldn't feel any way you do... I'm just sharing my current situation in this world and in this forum... I have read and re-read your thoughts, Joy, and they do give me a tiny bit of 'hope' or a slight bit of 'peace', so I appreciate that... Of course, we are two different people and will have different reactions to life's changes... Just interesting to reflect on those differences...

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. There is definitely tension between making economic ends meet and doing something you love. And it's particularly scary if you don't feel safe financially. Can you find a reasonable job--perhaps just to pay the bills--and make purposeful use of your free time to explore other interests? Do you enjoy statistics? If not, then regardless of your PhD, perhaps it's time to move on. If so, then maybe new statistical areas are creative outlets to pursue. From your note, it sounds like you need some kind of soul-enriching, regular activity to buoy you during this difficult time. Please know I'm thinking of you. And I'm happy to have a further conversation (my email address is in my blog profile).

  4. Dear Joy,

    thanks so much for your response and thoughts. It helps a tiny bit to reach out and 'talk' to others, even in this cyberworld, about my circumstances. I just don't know who's life this is [it certainly doesn't seem like mine]!

    I certainly have applied for jobs - to earn money and for other reasons. Stats isn't my area [at this time] although I'd be interested to teach it...

    Yeah, soul-enriching would be great! I just haven't figured out what it would be, even if I didn't make money doing it!

    Thank you for the invitation to 'talk' further privately; that's very considerate of you. I may just take you up on that invitation!