Should I even dare to aspire for an academic career?

15-Mar-20, 21:40
Avatar for SforSpec
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi everyone, I am new to posting but have been lurking around this forum for some months now. I just wanted to put this question "out there" to anyone that has possibly wrestled with similar self doubt regarding their academic aspirations.

I am nearing the end of my PhD journey which hasn't always been easy. I took a somewhat interdisciplinary approach in my PhD research (my topic of study, methods and geographical area are not "mainstream" in my discipline), and thus feel like an outsider both in my discipline, and those I draw from. I have faced quite a few rejections from journals (though managed to publish one single-authored article in a decent journal), had a baby last year, and have been asked to revise my PhD manuscript because of a negative review sent by the internal examiner (external examiner and committee head were both very positive). On the bright side, I have secured a postdoc grant from a national funding agency and am due to start my postdoc at an "ivy league", once I get passed the hurdle of the viva (scheduled for May, if revised manuscript is accepted).

Of late I have been feeling utterly foolish to harbor the dream of an academic career. My struggles so far tell me I am clearly not the "best of the best" and given the current academic job market people such as myself that are not slotted easily, get weeded out. Moreover, I wonder whether years of precarity and uncertainty for myself and my family is truly worth it. I know I will face mounting rejections if I continue this academic journey and wonder if I should take those rejections at face value and just move on or whether to keep dreaming. Any advice for someone struggling to keep up?


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