It’s not often that I’m rocked back on my heels by any piece of writing that I see in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but this piece, “Not Quite Bulletproof” is one of those times.
It starts out as a meditation on academic credentialism, and then, ever so deftly, takes us to the author’s battle with alcoholism, and recovery.
I made a comment on the piece, to the effect that academic credentials can’t save you from your inner demons, and indeed can be another kind of socially sanctioned addiction (which is just restating the author’s point in stupidly pedestrian prose, but…).
I knew full professors at my R1 programs who were absolutely credential/competition addicts. Their CVs were spectacular. And they were fueled by desperation. It was painful to watch.
Actually, when I look back at my own earlier days, I think my competitiveness arose out of the same kind of self-loathing, and desperate, doomed effort to be, in the author’s words, “bulletproof.”
On this blog I promote a steely-eyed attentiveness to the length and quality of your CV. I see that as a mode of professional self-care. But it’s a fine line indeed between that and an addiction to productivity. Take care.