I just looked up gender-neutral pronouns on Wikipedia

When I sat down with Advisor this week, ze seemed glad that after telling zir about wanting to leave a few weeks ago, I’ve felt only more resolve about making that choice. One of the first things ze asked me was what skills I’d need to learn in preparation for getting a job. Then, how my family, partner, and friends had responded to my decision to leave. No judgment! Not even the slightest interest in changing my mind!

To be fair, ze has known for a long (long) time now that I’ve been on the fence, at best. Pretty early on in grad school, I floated the idea to zir that I would be happy to teach at a community college, then a while later that I wasn’t sure about teaching and was interested in publishing. Ze knows I’ve had a lot of (personal) low periods in grad school (last summer was rough, there was a bad break-up several years back, blah blah blah), and I haven’t been particularly communicative this year. So, my decision to leave wasn’t, or shouldn’t have been, a big surprise at all.

Advisor wasn’t sure exactly what needs to be done for me to get the MA, but ze is ready to help make it happen this spring. (It looks like I’ll turn the partial chapter I’ve got into a thesis. Totally doable, and I just got some really great feedback on what’s already written.) I’ve got to talk to Departmental Grad Advisor about the nitty-gritty details of getting out, which I’m not really looking forward to for various reasons, but that will be accomplished within a week.

Anyway, it feels good to have some more certainty about leaving. And while it’s not unexpected, it feels really good that my decision was accepted practically and humanely by my advisor. Instead of second-guessing me or shaming me, ze affirmed that I’m right in trying to take things one step at a time—I’m worrying less about getting a Dream Job or a Perfect New Career Job, but instead I just want A Job, even if I have to temp. While obviously Advisor is a career academic, ze was completely understanding about my reservations about the profession, even when I wasn’t being particularly polite about it. And when I said I absolutely don’t want to be an adjunct, ze immediately replied, “No, absolutely not!”

I’m almost afraid this post comes off as bragging a bit. I really hope anyone else reading this who has left or is leaving or might leave finds supportive individuals in their academic department too.


7 responses

  1. Brag away. I am really happy for you that your advisor was helpful, supportive and non-judgemental. I was reminded of a similar conversation many years ago with my advisor that went in exactly the opposite direction… We all deserve better than what I went through. Here’s hoping that the bureacratic wheels move quickly for you.

    March 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  2. Currer Bell

    I agree with WTF!

    March 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

  3. JC

    Not bragging at all! I’m really glad that your advisor was so supportive and non-judgemental, and I’m thrilled that you’ll be able to get out with your MA, so you’ll have something to show for the time you’ve spent there.

    Brag away! It’s great news!!

    March 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm

  4. Lauren

    I also decided to leave with my Masters and not go through the PhD and I was terrified to tell my advisor as things with him had not been great, but he was surprisingly supportive and helpful, which was really great and I have been really lucky to have support from everyone in my department and it has made the transition a lot easier

    March 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  5. You’re not bragging at all. I’m so glad that your advisor behaved in the manner that they did..and its good to hear that they were supportive and non-judgemental.

    Great news, really great news.

    March 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

  6. DJ

    Nothing to do with the content of your post, but I can’t stand invented gender-neutral pronouns. We would never allow undergraduate students in our classes to use nonstandard words, regardless of the excuse. It’s no better when we use them ourselves. Have you ever seen them used in any serious newspaper, magazine, or book, or in speech? I sure haven’t.

    Just accept that gender is a limitation of the English language. Either use the “he/she” construct or just state up front that your “he/him/his/she/her” pronouns are not meant to indicate gender.

    June 28, 2012 at 2:04 am

    • prepostacademic

      I’m not a big fan of gender-neutral pronouns, but I used them here because it seems to be a convention among post-academic bloggers. In that sense, yeah, I would probably let students use a nonstandard word if it was part of the lexicon of my class.

      But, uh, thanks for letting me know you disapprove?

      June 28, 2012 at 8:52 am

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