A few months ago now, I was sitting in my graduate adviser’s office, stammering over my words a bit more than usual. We were having a conversation that I frankly didn’t want to have. After five years in my History PhD program and with my dissertation in its advanced stages, I was telling him that I wouldn’t be seeking academic work after graduation. It took a few months for me to really admit that to myself, but when I finally did, the thought of being in academia for the rest of my life became unbearable. I was ready for a new stage in my life. Fortunately my adviser really “gets it,” and was supportive the whole time. But as I explained all this, I knew didn’t want to leave history itself behind entirely. At one point I said “I’ll probably always think of myself as a historian,” to which he promptly cut me off: “You will always be a historian”
You will always be a historian…
Those words are really the whole reason I’m writing right now. I won’t belabor you with the story of why I’m leaving academia. My situation really isn’t unique. There are thousands of students and contingent faculty like myself gradually realizing the serious problems in higher education. Many, like myself, are checking out. Lots of quality stories in the “quit lit” genre say it all much better than I could, and I don’t really see myself contributing much to the conversation. That’s not my aim on this blog. I just don’t want to dwell on it.
So what’s the point here then? Well, as my adviser said, I will always be a historian. I’ve spent so many years studying the subject and can’t just turn it off. Think of it as a social experiment – how does a former academic historian think about the world? I’m really getting back to the roots of why I started studying history to begin with – I just love history. I’ve essentially cursed myself to think like a historian for the rest of my life. I can’t help it. Everywhere I go something reminds me of history. I rant about it on long drives and nudge it into my everyday conversations. So this blog is really just a way for me to stay in touch with what I love. I loved history before graduate school, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t love it after. I don’t want to stop writing, thinking, and talking about history just because it’s not my job anymore. I still want to read, talk, engage, and mostly, enjoy history. Ironically, I feel like studying history as my job was actually infringing on my enjoyment of the topic. I want to explore and learn about random topics like I did years ago, just for fun.
That’s where you all come in! If you’re reading this you either clicked on one of my social media posts or stumbled here by accident. Either way, welcome! I’m glad you’re here for the ride. Visitors here can expect an assortment of blog styles. Some might just be everyday thoughts – Historic Thoughts, if you will – where I connect a current event or something I saw that day to a historical point. I’m still an active reader, so I’ll be filling you in on my thoughts on books I’ve read recently. Finally, I love traveling to historic sites – I’ll be going the Saratoga battlefield soon so stay tuned! – so there will be some occasional “travel blog” style posts as well.
I also hope to build a bit of a community here, I don’t want to talk to myself! (Though I do it plenty…) If being an academic taught me anything, it’s that I definitely don’t know everything. Work that comments section and feel free to pitch a blog idea. I love guest blogs! Let’s get some conversations going. After all, since I’m leaving academia I need my fix of scholarly talk!
Thanks to everyone in advance for reading. I hope you’ll join me on this crazy journey.