There is a mix of nervous laughter and clapping coming from the room next door. The anticipation and heightened anxiety – the edge – associated with academic job talks is almost tangible from here. Job talks for a lecturer in the Department. I haven’t applied: the only reason to do so would be to turn it down. The prospect of not being able to turn it down, unthinkable. I am staying away from next door.
A combination of days away, and time with friends means that I have eight “working days” left in my current office. Eight days. Not long at all – and today is one of them. I am preparing to leave this university behind. To start again in my new post, and not to need to come back.
But that’ s hard. It’s hard because amidst the stress and corruption, I have friends among the PhD students and non-lecturing staff who have had no part in the back-biting and cliqueiness of the past few months. It’s hard because the most consistent and Godly voice of support I’ve had at this university has been from the chaplain. She saw me arrive from the last place, a quivering wreck. She has sat with me each week, helped me make sense of my mental health care, of what has been happening in church, saw me through a gruelling job search. All In Locus Christi. An employee of this university no longer, I must now seek the help of another chaplaincy. I can’t feasibly come back here each week to see her.
I have been given a fresh start. A new beginning somewhere where no one knows my struggle with relationships, with mental health. But this was the case nearly three years ago when I arrived here. And the struggles resurfaced. I am frightened of stuffing this up again. Of being too sensitive to departmental politics; of being rendered unemployable. I want to make the most of this opportunity to work with people in my research area, to do a job that I love. Please, God, help me make the best that I can of this new start.