Unhappy after tenure?

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In our newest “how can we help you?“, an anonymous professor writes:

I have tenure but I am not happy where I live.

I won the academic lottery after years on contingent contracts, and then I finally got on the TT and received tenure, yay!! I love my job–I have lovely students and great colleagues (don’t take a good work environment for granted). But, I don’t like where I live. There are limited options for my spouse. I don’t like how car-dependent the place is. I do not like the climate, which is getting more and more extreme due to global warming.

Before the pandemic I felt that my love of the job outweighs the not loving the location. But during the acute phase of the pandemic I got a huge bout of homesickness for my home town. Also, I got worried being so far away from my parents who aren’t getting any younger. It would not take many hours and I need to take a long flight to reach them.

The pandemic worsened my sense of homesickness and increased my desire for more geographic control. It’s like I’m realizing and now only fully coming to terms with how much I (and my partner) have sacrificed for my academic career.

How do you deal with this? Moving to a place that would fit my criteria of e.g., physical proximity to my parents is close to impossible given how the job market is structured. But I’m also not quite willing to go alt-ac. So, maybe what I need is a psychological shift? Any perspective on this welcome, of people who learned to love where they lived or tips to feel more at home.

This is a wonderful query, and I’m hoping we may be able to help the OP work through their situation by hearing from others. Are you (or were you) unhappy after tenure? It might be good to hear from readers on this, as I suspect that many early-career people conceive of a TT or tenured job as the “promised land”–but, as the OP notes, it’s not always that simple. One can be lucky and privileged to get a job like this, and yet still be (reasonably) unhappy for a variety of reasons, such as the job or institution “not being all it’s cracked up to be” or (as in the OP’s case) due to location. Second, if you are (or were) unhappy, how have you dealt with it? Did you make a career change of some sort, or instead try to make a psychological shift? Either way, how did it work out? Finally, based on your experience, do you have any specific tips or advice for the OP?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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