Dr. Sarah McLean
Is it ever enough?
I am a "yes" person. I am not sure if I have always been this way, but for now in my current life as an Assistant Professor, I am a yes person. Being a yes person can be beneficial in some ways: I get to take part in opportunities that I would not have originally considered, I can meet with people and students from a variety of different disciplines and backgrounds, and frankly, I can be social! But personally speaking, being a "yes" person can be exhausting. I truly love and value my job and rarely wake-up not wanting to go to work (but let's be honest, we have all been there, especially if the weather is particularly gross outside like it has been this week). Usually when I get to work I am energized through talking to my colleagues and/or interacting with my students. And honestly, the day is usually over before I know it (for better or for worse). However, I have a hard time saying no. No to being on committees, no to reference letters, no to doing that "little bit extra". I know that part of the reason is because I have a bit of a perfectionistic personality, but I also know that another major part is that I currently do not have job security. I am a contract faculty member, and while I feel that my work is valued by my department(s), I do not feel comfortable with my current level of job security. I love to teach, and am confident that I am good at it, but is that enough? I engage in research about the scholarship of teaching and learning, but is that enough? Should I be applying to more grants? I tell my students that even if I won the lottery, I would still do my job. But I wish I did not have to always feel the pressure to say yes, and do extra for every aspect of my career. I am sure that this approach is not sustainable, nor is it good for work-life balance. And maybe you think, well, do you really need to do extra for everything? I probably do not. But the security and comfort that I feel from saying "yes" and being very involved can sometimes overshadow the time that I get to re-energize and spend time with my family.
There are approaches to my work that I will never change. I will always take the time to talk to students. I will always try to be as enthusiastic as possible when leading/teaching a class. I will always laugh with my coworkers over ridiculous things. I will always value and treasure mentoring students and having authentic conversations. I do not want to change any of these things. However, I just want to feel that my work is equally as valued as the work of my tenured/tenure-track colleagues by my administration. A little positive reinforcement never hurt, right?