My department just had a chair election. I wasn't going to run. I'd thought about it, but the timing didn't seem great for a variety of non-work-related reasons. To my surprise, however, someone nominated me. I decided to stay in the race because I have aspirations for the department, and I thought I'd be in a better position to pursue those as chair.
Running for chair means putting yourself out there, and that's not like me. My imposter syndrome is at its peak around my departmental colleagues -- so much so that in my 16.5 years at UNT I have not so much as given a research brownbag presentation. I'm a tenured full professor and editor-in-chief of a key field journal, but it's still not too late for my colleagues to realize their mistake in hiring me!
Anyway, I was determined to Brené Brown the shit out of my presentation to the department. I took some deep breaths, 5 mg of Clonazepam, and did my thing. There was clapping and nodding. I thought it went well. I thought it went great, if I'm being honest.
Maybe not. I lost in spectacular fashion. My colleagues took the hardest of passes on my candidacy--no getting around that. I think it's because our current chair was running for re-election, and he's a good chair. (Or, it might be because I occasionally shit-tweet about my department's no good, very bad promotion and tenure policy. Who can say?!!?!)
It's helpful for me to process disappointment by focusing on something I'm proud of. I took this lesson from a Martha Beck piece on humiliation. That's not exactly what I'm dealing with, but negative emotions hang out together in my experience.
Beck writes, "the very things you're ashamed of are likely the things about which you can feel most proud." Reflecting on this experience, I am proud of the vision I presented to the department. It focused on mentorship, equity, curriculum reform, and shared governance. It took time and reflection to develop, and it came from a place of sincere commitment to the department as a community of scholars and educators. The election did not turn out the way I'd hoped, but I'm still really proud of what I tried to do.
I've had some time to think on this. It stings. The stakes are lower than, say, a manuscript rejection for an untenured faculty member, but this kind of rejection feels more personal. The good news is that I am (mostly) past the Bad Blood phase of my disappointment, and I've moved on to Survivor.
I had to go to a faculty meeting a couple days after getting the bad news. I mean, I didn't have to go, but it seemed like the professional thing to do. It was un-fun. But, a friend pointed out that as difficult as it was to be at work that day, I got to be around my students. They are amazing, and they're the reason I wanted to focus on mentorship, equity, and curriculum reform in the first place. I'll keep working on these commitments.