One of the weird things about being even tangentially associated with the academic life is that the end of the school year becomes an end in many different ways. It is an end of sorts for the town, because in a few days, the transient students will abandon the town, and it will once again become ours. This is, for those of you from other paths of life, completely glorious.
It is also an end for many in terms of employment. Some see it as the end of certainty, particularly if they're in a job where renewal is not automatic. Some see it as the end of this phase of their life, particularly if they're making a move to a newer, bigger, better job. And both of these ends affect those of us who stay in one place, so it might be an end of sorts for me too.
It's still early, but so far, the good news from colleagues has been outweighing the uncertainty and fear from other colleagues. I hope the trend continues. I have friends without any definite prospects, and I hope they gain some certainty. I have a friend who desperately wants to return to the country, and there are so many people who also want him back here, there would be mass celebration if he gets good news. The joy, in other words, would definitely spread.
But this time around, the most significant end I'm celebrating? It isn't for the school year being over...it was actually one of the best teaching years I've ever had. It isn't just for the end of night classes...although the opportunity to cook for and eat with my family every single night is intoxicating. And it isn't the end of that horrible time of the year when I have to wear socks...evil, cursed things. While these are all ends worthy of cheer, they're not the biggest conclusion in my life right now.
The biggest change for me is that I have already heard of the good fortune of several of my friends...and the only reaction it prompted within me was of cheer, of admiration, of well-wishes. Not a single time did my thoughts turn to bitter jealousy of careers which actually advance, of professional lives which gain recognition. I am not weeping for my failures. I am not hearing good news and being angry I never received recognition. No, I am only happy for my friends.
Maybe my own depression, my own crushed ego trips, my selfishness...maybe these are what's truly ending. I really hope this is the case. But if they're only diminishing....hell, that would also be a huge victory.