It’s undergraduate project marking time. I’ve done my marking now. Once we get to this stage, I’m familiar with my students’ projects. What is more interesting, is reading other lecturers’ students’ projects, to second-mark them. And this year, I marked a series of projects on grit. I am reliably informed by these undergraduates, that grit is that quality of “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” (Duckworth, 2007, p. 1087). If these students’ explanations are anything to go by, one could probably say that, in some aspects of life, I am quite gritty. I don’t give up easily.
Usually. But now, I am not so sure that this grittiness is particularly helpful. I have always left job applications (along with other important decisions) consciously and deliberately, if somewhat passively, down to God. That is, if I go for a job, and I don’t get it, it is because God does not hold that job in mind for me. If I am offered an interview, I attend, and leave the decision with the panel. I’ll get the job that God intends me to get. And this time, and last time, I’ve made many applications for academic posts, because this is the career I have found myself pursuing. I didn’t actively pursue it; I was offered a PhD position, without applying for it; I would never have dreamt myself up to it; this career is God-given.
But, as I approach yet another interview this week, for an open-ended lectureship at the university I work in – and as I have recognized that this interview process is a charade – a set-up for their fast-tracked and favourite candidate (I am as unlikely to get it as a camel is to get through the eye of a needle) – I am left wondering. I am left wondering if academia is where I should be at all. If I have been open enough to God’s leading, or simply imagined what I wanted to see.
If, while I think I have been persevering with the long-term goal of academia, I have missed the longer-term goals that God had in mind for me to follow. If the continual rejections, rather than testing my will to stay, are actually challenging me to take a break from academia, focus on something different. I wonder if I am being called away from the academy. If searching beyond it, for the further goal would be true grit.
Each door shut on me is painful. The door that is likely to shut this week will be a devastating blow. I have given my all to the university – if they don’t want me… I’m not sure how I am going to cope. And I have to pretend all the time like I can. Please, God, show me where the open doors and windows are. I want to go Your way.