As one of the founding members of Tenure, She Wrote, it’s been a little over two years since my first post and I find myself reflecting on what blogging for TSW has meant to me. This is my first foray into blogging and so when I started, I was fairly uncertain about what the experience would be like. Over the past few years, I have used the blog as a way to work through various challenges that came up in my life–both the good and the bad. (See here for a full list of my previous posts.) TSW started up in my first year as a faculty member…a fortuitous time since I was experiencing a lot of new things and had a lot to process! I was able to use the writing process to provide clarity about the issues that had previously been bouncing around my brain. It was terrifying at first to expose my thoughts to the world*, but also liberating because it reminded me that I am not alone in this experience. Over the past few years, I have learned that if I am having an issue, then often many other people are too.
But blogging is not without its own set of stresses. At times, getting a post up is just another deadline that I struggle to meet. Other times, the content of my post isn’t all that I thought it would be and then I have to have a talking-to with myself.** And despite the public nature of a blog, I am not someone who likes to engage in controversial debates, especially since it often seems that the internet brings out the worst in some folks…which means that I often shy away from current, controversial topics for my posts. One of the worst parts of blogging for me is comment moderation. On the positive side, I get to read and approve comments as they come in, which makes me feel connected to the readers. On the other hand, I (and the rest of the TSW contributors) often agonize over comment moderation and I cringe at some of the harsh, mean, or misogynistic comments that come across our posts. And finally, as TSW has become more popular over the past few years, I find that I am starting to feel like an imposter. The little voice in my head asks, “There are so many amazing women contributing to TSW, what can I possibly add?” or “Who possibly cares about my struggles with lab space (turns out, quite a few of you care) or struggles with administrative housework?” or “Why are my thoughts given a platform whereas the voices of other far more eloquent people, or others with far more pressing issues, are kept in the dark?”
But then I remind myself that we are here to provide a diversity of opinions and my voice is just one among the many- which is the point. Academia is a mix of the mundane and the sublime and our daily lives encompass small issues as well as systemic challenges. Despite the universality of our experiences, each of us faces our own set of personal opportunities, constraints, backgrounds, cultures, and ways of being, and I hope we have shown that there is no one way to be an academic. For me, reading this blog has been a bit of an antidote to all of the #dontaskalice and similar bullsh*t out there. When I hear other people discussing a TSW post, or see a post being retweeted with commentary, my heart glows. I am so proud of the group of women that started and continue to foster TSW, and I look forward to seeing how it changes and evolves over the years. I hope it has helped you as much as it has me.***
* or at least the small slice of it that reads our blog…which turns out to be >200,000 visitors per year! And we have had views from most countries on earth (see below), which is pretty amazing (though our readers are still largely from the US). Perhaps by the end of this year we will have gotten visitors who are stationed in Greenland or visitors from Chad (or a few other countries in Africa).
** repeat after me: perfect is the enemy of good, perfect is the enemy of good, perfect…
*** and wow, this post ended on a far sappier note that I would have predicted. But sappy in a good way. Let’s all go look at pictures of cute kittens now!