Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful advice. The emotional toll these four years on the academic job market have taken is immense … but it's my love for academia that has kept me hanging on. I'm tired … exhausted, even, but I wish it were that simple. In ways (please remember that this is a disgruntled PhD graduate speaking), I feel like a great injustice has been done against me (I recognize that I'm not the only person in my position … but it's my experience that I know best). Going to grad school in social psychology means being trained to be a college professor. I spent 6 years being indoctrinated into the professoriate, only to find when I graduated with my Ph.D., that there weren't enough professor positions to go around. I've had to make my own way in the corporate world. None of my instructors as inundergraduate or grad school know anything about it. True, I make more money … but it was never about the money. I would have chosen a different field, had that been the case. I chose social psychology because I love it. I guess that would be reason enough to carry on pursuing an acadmic post, but I have my sanity to consider. When every application I send out is met with silence or, at best, a neatly formatted rejection email, I have to wonder how long I keep trying before I give up. I know this is a question only I can answer … I'm trying to answer it. That's why I'm posting this to the wiki.
I think the truth is that I'm having to come to grips with the fact that life doesn't always work out for people. I spent most of my young adult years wanting to be a professor, and I jumped through all of the hoops I was supposed to (I've even accomplished more than my advisor did when he took on an assistant prof position at an R1 school — He would acknowledge this, so I'm not saying anything he wouldn't say—and my dream still proves illusive. It's devastating, really. One blogger who got wind of one my publications even said that I should win tenure immediately. Sigh. If only bloggers were on selection committees, eh?
I come home from work most days sad. Sad because I'm largely doing epidemiology research, not social psychology. Sad because I won't have more opportunities to explore how a scale I recently published in PSPB relates to new outcomes. Sad because I won't be able to teach college students again—interestingly, the chair of one of the departments I interviewed at said as he dropped off at the airport , "It would be a shame if you didn't get to teach … you've got a real gift."
Forgive me. I know this is all melodramatic. A tough job market takes its toll, I guess.
To familyman, there is more to life than academia. I wish I could remember that more often.
Thanks for reading.