How is everyone doing this week? I hope you are *thriving*! Let’s kick some ass.
Have you ever played the game / done the ice breaker two truths and a lie? Let’s play it now for academia. Here are mine. Which is a lie?
The institution cannot love you
Academia is not a fucking meritocracy
(scroll down for the answers)
1. You should bloom where you are planted. What a hot garbage lie. okay, sure, it is a good idea to try to be happy where you are and with what you have. But we aren’t fucking plants. We don’t have to just sit in a garbage situation and hope that the toxins don’t choke us to death. Because they WILL CHOKE US. But the longer we are in a toxic swamp, the harder it is to imagine uprooting ourselves and moving on. And yet, unless we do that, we will never actually thrive. Bloom where you are healthy. Bloom where the earth is fertile. Bloom where you are wanted. Fuck bloom where you are planted.
2. “The institution cannot love you” Thank you Dr. Tressie McMillian Cottom for this truth. No matter how much you give to an institution, it will not and cannot love you. It will never ever prioritize your well-being. Full stop. Not just in a circumstance where your well-being is up against some broader goal of the institution. No – it will never prioritize your well-being. It cannot not. This has been a really really hard lesson for me to learn (and I’m still learning it! Damn!) So - put your efforts into taking care of yourself. Put your own work and health and love and life first. And do not ever give to the institution anything that you cannot afford to spend (time, energy, attention, whatever).
3. Academia is not a fucking meritocracy. Y’all know. This is goddamned truth. I have this framed in my office. I have it as a post-it note on my computer. Want your own? Here’s a lil printable for you, just because I love you (formatted to fit in a picture frame, obvi). Why do I say this? Academic structure unevenly distributes rewards and punishments across groups and individuals. Academic leaders are chosen not for their ability to support high-functioning individuals but to kiss up, shit down, and shut up. Pure luck and randomness play a huge role in individual success. None of this – not a single fucking thing about it – is rooted in merit. The thing about this truth is that it both takes the sting out of defeat – hey, I didn’t get this thing / my article was rejected / I feel undervalued not because of my performance but because academia can’t see quality if it smacks us in the face. But it ALSO takes a little bit of the wind out of our sails when we win – did we win because we are THE BEST or because we were simply in the right place at the right time. Basically, I’m saying that I deserve all of everything I’ve never gotten and none of all of what I have gotten!
Want to play along? What are your two academic truths and a lie? (uh, if you post to twitter, maybe don’t link to this, I guess? I hear that old muskrat is sensitive about substack. #MHAWS is cool though).
Enjoy guessing about what is a truth or a lie? Buy Mirya a coffee here. Want to rock some MHAWS merch? Find it here!
Love this, as always! Recently transplanted (work and life wise) and happy to report I am blooming where I am wanted!
Good reminder for me today, "The Institution cannot love you...do not ever give to the institution anything that you cannot afford to spend (time, energy, attention, whatever)." Thank you Mirya Holman!