one year later

June 30, 2023 - What I’ve been doing in the year since my resignation

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my last day as a tenure-track professor. Since a surprising number of people have found and commented to me on my original resignation post, I thought it would be worthwhile to share what I’ve been doing this past year.

Professionally, I’ve maintained an adjunct teaching arrangement at Fuqua, which is perfect for me. This past academic year I taught only the Spring 1 term (six weeks plus some time on either side for prep and grading), but it was an intense period with 4 sections, 283 students, and 16 hours of classroom time per week. For the next academic year, my teaching assignments are shifting to reduce my load and let me focus on more technical content, which I’m really excited about.

Outside of that short teaching period, I’ve focused extensively on recreational pursuits, domestic tasks (including selling our home and moving locally), and spending time with my children. And I just have to say: I am so happy. I went through a lot of soul-searching and deliberation to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of resigning. It was a very painful process, with multiple elements of my personality participating in a raucous debate: the overachiever, the feminist, the mother, the artist, …the list goes on. And then I quietly sat with my choice for months to safeguard against it being a temporary desire. Knowing how this choice has impacted my well-being makes all the deliberation well-worth it. In some ways, it would have been much easier to just stay the course and not ask the question of myself: what do I really want to do with my life? The answer to this question will be different for everyone, but this was unequivocally the right choice for me; I have no regrets at this point.

Importantly, I also have no regrets about taking the tenure-track job originally; if I had never had the opportunity to explore that option, I would have felt as if I was holding myself back and might have carried that regret with me for a long time. I am still grateful for the chance that was given to me and for everyone at Duke and elsewhere who helped me live it out. Additionally, I don’t think I would have been able to settle into such a great adjunct arrangement without going through this trajectory. If I wanted to feel guilty about taking a tenure-track job and then leaving it, I absolutely could, but who would that serve? When I took the job I had every intention of doing my best to get tenure. And when I realized I no longer wished to pursue that goal, I stepped away to make room for someone who did. I was perfectly honest at every juncture, which is all anyone should ask of themself.

If you’re interested in specifics of how I’ve been spending my time, I’ve been gardening on our new 5-acre property, which includes a dedicated quarter-acre for an orchard and vegetable garden (which we established from lawn). I’ve also been taking art classes to work toward a certificate in botanical art and illustration offered by the UNC botanical garden. I’ve worked with my husband to remodel the living room ourselves (including hardwood floor installation and changing out our front door) and we have a long list of other work to do on the house. More recently, I’ve been working on developing an app (more details later if it goes anywhere). And of course there’s been a lot of cooking, baking, reading, and listening to podcasts/audiobooks (a must for mundane but requisite tasks!). Being with my children so much has also been a joy. Obviously, no life is without challenges, and parenting bring some of the highest highs and lowest lows. But apparently I’m addicted to the highs because we decided to try for a fourth child (also not the right choice for everyone!); our fourth boy will be joining our family this August. Life will continue to be a wild ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.