The strangest thing has happened. Perhaps a wormhole opened up. I have no other explanation for the anomaly that evidently occurred in the midst of Brexit, Trump and all other random craziness and university politics. But my tenure track committee got together for my midterm evaluation and in all their infinite wisdom decided to give me tenure.
I guess, in the words of the great Sally Field, they like me. They really, really like me. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can now open my mouth, speak my opinion even louder than I did before, get involved in politics, think long term and fight for my people and what is right instead of fighting for my own survival.
It's weird though, I thought that I still had a while to go and so now it comes as a bit of a surprise that I have made it to the top of the mountain and came out a winner in the academic survival of the fittest. There are no more hoops to jump through. Just a couple of years and then I will be too old for all the career development awards with time-post-PhD-award deadlines. I can buy a house. I can relax. But I will also admit, that while fireworks were going off in my head when I heard the news, a little part of my heart broke, unaccustomed to stability and security, and thought: but wait a minute... so this is it?
And indeed, if this is it, then what am I going to do with the rest of my life? I've been mulling over that thought for the past few weeks and the answer is that, quite frankly, I don't know yet. This must be why athletes prepare for the next Olympics even after winning gold. Because there is passion and dedication and true grit in the struggle for success. Once achieved, you have to identify new goals and challenges. And that's not something you do overnight when you've just had your eyes on the same ball for 20 years.