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2004.04.19

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dale

Yes, all my academic friends have gradually drifted away, geographically and personally. It is an insular world, its own place.

I don't miss the world, much, but I miss the friends.

Michelle

I'm really depressed too if makes you feel any better.

Rana

:(

Group hug? ;)

(Nah, chocolate would probably work better.)

dale

Hugs. Speaking of missing people I miss YOU, too, Michelle. It was so nice to see you in my comments yesterday.

yami

Nah, chocolate only goes so far. Group hug!

Rana

Group hug _and_ chocolate?

Another Damned Medievalist

I stay in touch with some of my friends through blogging, and have made other friends through blogging. But usually, it's telephones and conferences that keep us together -- and really only about 5 or 6 at most. I'll be really depressed when this contract is over -- great colleagues, and only a few I'll run into in the normal course of events except by working very hard at it.

LiL

I've moved around all my life too - I remember the feeling of realizing I'll never see my best Canadian kindergarten friend again when we moved back to Hungary for the second time. And many more similar times followed. Until my mid-twenties I was deeply suspicious of new friendships because of this. What made me relax a lot about losing friends was the realization that instead of all-out loss it's more like relationships are somehow sifted through, and I stay friends with people with whom we have things to say after not being in touch for weeks, months, a year. It's almost like we test each other out. This must be a function of growing up... I hope, anyway. On the other hand, I have non-academic relationships through siblings/cousins and the very few college friends I'm still in touch with that are fairly permanent - and I notice them not having a lot of friends either the longer they're out of school. I wonder sometimes whether us academics aren't in fact spoiled... We spend all those extra years in grad school in close proximity with other people our approximate age who share our interests/curiosities/inquisitivenesses. Most non-academics don't seem to have that pretty much as soon as they leave school. (It's also almost proverbial that once you're out of school, it's much, much harder to meet new romantic prospects.)

Amanda

Can I get in on the group hug? I've been singing the "can't seem to maintain ties with people" blues of late, and trying to compose a blog post on the recent Chronicle column about single people in academia isn't helping. (Every draft keeps turning into a self-pity party. Argh.)

I think it's true that being in school (as a student or as a teacher) encourages friendships in a way that being out of school doesn't. I'd qualify it further and say that smaller schools, or departments, are probably more likely to encourage close ties than larger ones; one of the complaints I sometimes hear from my students here is that our university is so large that it's hard to meet people with whom you have things in common, so social life tends to revolve around the dorms, the Greek system, and weekend keg parties. Whereas my undergrad alma mater had a much smaller student body and a lot of us were weird nerdy kids discovering the joy of being surrounded by other weird nerdy kids for the first time ever.

But I wish I could have also had an education in how to maintain friendships, how not to drift away from people. In retrospect it seems like I've kind of neglected that side of my life.

LiL

amanda, I'll hug you! On the other hand, I've decided I WILL NOT BE SORRY I AM SINGLE! I get lonely - yes, I get wistful that no one's waiting for me at home and supports me - yes, but... I guess I've seen too many bad divorces. Among them my sisters. The article in the Chronicle - yeah, my grandma I'm sure is convinced I'm a lesbian, I know my parents have wondered too - just 'cause I haven't been in a reasonably serious relationship for a while now. The dearth of men who want to date women like me (and the rest of us single Ph.D. candidates/holders) is pretty severe, actually. Or, they're married. (There's one for the Chronicle. Say, a survey of single women in academia: how many married men - professors, husbands of friends, siblings etc. - hit on you in the last year? It's like we're fair game...) I've seriously begun to consider something we've joked around about with a gay friend of mine: since I want children more than a husband and I'll just have his in the end.

Rana

Amanda -- I too was one of those nerdy kids revelling in being "among my kind" and that attitude carried over somewhat into grad school (though I never was able to get into graduate housing, so was more on the outside than before, when I'd lived on campus all 4 years).

I'm a terrible drifter. Currently I'm debating with myself whether to clue in my friends about the blog's existence -- at the very least there'd be some reassurance that I haven't fallen off the end of the earth. On the other hand, I don't think it would make my weeks-on-end neglect of emails look any better. (Heh.)

Rana

Lil -- I read that article too, along with the one about whether having kids in grad school is a good idea.

It seems that all round academia is a land of haves and have nots -- only unlike in other areas, the haves have it all, and the nots do not: tenure, relationships, families...

Depressing. More group hugging!

LiL

I guess I've too much of an attitude of I-don't-care-if-the-odds-are-against-me. I've heard all the arguments for and against having kids in grad school, during the first few years on the job, sooner, later, whenever - seems to me, you should have them when you're ready (NOT before - and the timeframe's different for everyone) and somehow you'll make it work. Finding a mate is altogether a different issue.

yami

Group hugs, and chocolate, and kittens and bunnies!

Let me third the weird nerdy kids among our own kin experience - my alma mater was exactly that, though I'm not sure how much was due to smallness vs. the rather specialized student body. The thing that's so different about academia is that only the nerdy survive - as opposed to, say, industry, where you don't have to be nerdy at all, merely competent and money-lovin.

In industry I feel like I've just flown in from the moon, and this is a very powerful element in my current grad-school-or-no-or-maybe-later waffling. Probably more powerful than it should be.

LiL

Just posted on this... pinging doesn't seem to work & I'm too tired to figure out why tonight...

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