I’m ‘waiting for Godot.’ Are you?

Samuel Beckett’s famous play has been… playing on my mind

Ages and ages ago,* I submitted a fellowship application. It was by far the most complex application I have ever made, and the total number of pages surpassed 30. “Gosh!” I hear you exclaim. “This must have been for a major fellowship scheme. Three years, possibly five years of funding, surely.”

*ahem. Two and a half months ago.

Not so, dear friends! A mere 12 months of research funding. And I will not be notified if I have been successful until the end of June, which means another whole month of suppressing this stress-induced stomach ulcer. Fun.

In the meantime, naturally, because of the perpetual uncertainty, insecurity and anxiety that is apparently normal and acceptable in academia, I must apply for other roles. I am currently employed on a short-term contract that will be done and dusted at the end of July, regardless of whether the project is finished or not. I will, of course, remain working on the project outputs past the end of my contract, as that is just how things work in this field. (not griping – much – just noting how much free work is expected of academics in general)

One of the key frustrations eating at me while I wait for the Godot that may never arrive is that I realise I am in a Catch-22 situation (there’s another irritating literary allusion for you). I need the fellowship funding in order to have the time to dedicate to writing up paper from my thesis… but my application would have been stronger if I already had those papers written and published.

I need papers in order to flesh out my CV and to prove I’m worth funding, but I need the funding to allow me to write the papers. If I don’t get the fellowship and instead work again as a post-doc on someone else’s project, I won’t have the time and energy to write my own papers, meaning that at the end of any future position I won’t have actually progressed much in my own career. At some point in the midst of all this, My husband and I would like to (shock, horror) buy a house and stop renting. But that will require a modicum of contractual security that is just not even imaginable for me at the moment. I’m not being greedy – a three year contract would be enough for us to consider not paying someone else’s mortgage and get our own.

It’s possible that in a month’s time I will update this post and be sickeningly joyful – but it’s also entirely possible that I will be considering a new career in dog-walking. At least it’ll get me out in the fresh air…

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