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  • jamiehagen

Huzzah! I was confirmed in post as a Lecturer

It has been a wild ride since I was offered my first academic job as Lecturer in International Relations back in June 2019. Fast forward two years, this summer I received my letter confirming me in post for that job. I've given it my all since I accepted that job offer, but I don't think I even knew the half of how much this job would change and challenge me, personally and professionally.

Learning the academic practices in a new country, continuing to work on my book, co-authoring multiple academic articles, moving a partner and three cats across the world, two strikes, and surviving a whole dang pandemic can wear a person out!

But truthfully, much of the exhaustion is mental. I thought I'd feel more secure than ever when I started my academic job, having crossed the hurdle I'd read nightmare statistics about since before I even began my doctoral program. That was not my experience. Starting out a new job is a lonely endeavour as is moving to a new job on your own as so many of us do given the challenges of finding a job on the academic job market. I spent many nights alone in my campus accommodations full of self doubt, on a different time zone from those closest to me.

Those of us who have lived and worked precariously know the sleepless nights, the uncertainty, and the general havoc of imposter syndrome. Being on probation magnified some of this stress. This job is the first secure, long-term job I've ever held so I was determined to be confirmed as soon as possible. I was hired with a three year probation period but decided to go for confirmation early after two years given the work I'd done to meet the expectations for coming off probation. I'm grateful for the mentors and colleagues who talked me through this process and supported my decision.

Reading the words 'confirmed in post' was a big relief for me, as has been the time I've taken to recharge before we return to work this fall. I've taken ever single one of my vacation days and am doing my best to actually stay away from my computer those days!

I know that in order for me to show up and work hard, I also need to be able to take the time to recharge. For me this means reading memoirs, petting lots of cats, meditating, taking long walks in the woods with my partner and bird watching. Because we are now fully vaccinated my partner and I are able to get to enjoy Northern Ireland and the surrounding area this summer. We took a ferry to Liverpool, we've been taking the train to check out the surrounding coastal walks, and we're currently dreaming up a plan to take a ferry to the Isle of Man. Wallabies live there! Who knew?

As I enter my third year at Queen's University Belfast I'm looking forward to more opportunities to develop my research, thinking big about what ways we can continue to engage with the community with our Center for Gender in Politics and doing my best to continue to show up as a queer feminist mentor for students. I'm also really excited about a number of emerging opportunities including co-authoring a background white paper for a leading LGBTQ organisation, co-editing a special journal issue on Queer Peacebuilding, co-editing an edited volume on queer methods for conducting research in conflict and completing the final interviews for my book. All of these opportunities allow me to work at the intersection of academia, activism and policy informed by and in communication with queer and trans communities.

Above all, as the pandemic continues I know the real work is to stay with Mary Oliver's beautiful invitation to refuse the busy long enough to embrace the pause out of 'sheer delight and gratitude'. That is my most important job.


Oh do you have time

to linger

for just a little while

out of your busy

and very important day

for the goldfinches

that have gathered

in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,

to see who can sing

the highest note,

or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,

or the most tender?

Their strong, blunt beaks

drink the air

as they strive


not for your sake

and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning

but for sheer delight and gratitude –

believe us, they say,

it is a serious thing

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in the broken world.

I beg of you,

do not walk by

without pausing

to attend to this

rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.

It could mean everything.

It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:

You must change your life.

Mary Oliver, “Invitation,” A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).

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