I’ve applied for a job.

In itself, this is unremarkable, but as I write this post (which is long before you will get to read it), I know that this job is different for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, because I really, really, really want it. It is my dream job: a permanent research and teaching contract in my ideal workplace.

And secondly, because if I don’t get it, I will have to give up my dreams of an academic career.

I have entered the Academic Endgame.

The person specification could have been written for me, although it wasn’t. Which is why, deep down, I know that if I don’t get this job, that’s it. The university won’t be looking for anyone else like me for years, and I can’t wait that long for another chance. I can’t spend more than one more summer wondering if next year, I’m going to have enough contracts to bring in enough money to make ends meet. I can’t face spending more than another couple of years trying to juggle the million and one contracts I keep in the air at one time. I can’t risk not having the stability to know that I can afford to put my own children through university.

The Academic Endgame is slow. I started this application in September. The interviews are in late November. Which means that…

…the Academic Endgame is stressful. It feels like everything is riding on this one job application. Putting the application together was immensely stressful, because I knew every single word had to hit home and that I can’t afford to get anything wrong. As I write, I’m still waiting to hear if I’ve got an interview…

So the Academic Endgame is also like limbo. There is no real point me working on my research projects at the moment because it could all be a waste of time. If I don’t get the job, I can forget about them. I don’t see any point submitting proposals for conferences, even though there are a couple coming up that I would like to attend, because if I’m not going to be carrying on with my research, there’s no point spending my own money flogging a dead (or dying) horse.

If I don’t get the job, my academic career will die a slow and (for me) a painful death. I’ve got speaking engagements lined up until the end of 2020, and enough work at Lancaster to see me through until summer, which means that there will be no immediate change in my workload. There might be part time work at Lancaster next academic year too, which should give me enough of a buffer zone to find another, more permanent, job. But one of the big problems is that I don’t know what else to do.

And the other?

All the projects I wouldn’t complete. The work half done that would be left unfinished. Saying goodbye to people I’ve enjoyed collaborating and working with – good people who have done a lot to help and support me. The grief that would attend the death of my academic ambitions would be a heavy load to bear.