“Why did you leave academia?”
I don’t hate academia. I LOVE IT. I think it’s because college campuses make me feel like I’m in my 20s again – a time of my life I enjoyed thoroughly.
Anyway, why did I leave?
I did not leave completely. I was still teaching community college classes until two weeks ago. I love teaching and imparting knowledge. Even though I’ve decided to not go back to teaching next semester, I don’t think I will ever let go of the need to be in an academic environment.
For all the education you get, the financial rewards are not worth it.
I know. I am supposed to be a serious academic. Money should not matter.
I wish we could tell that to the utility company and my landlords though.
So yes, one big reason I left is that it does not pay well.
There are caveats to this of course, but that was not my experience.
Secondly, dipping my toe into the extra-academic world was exhilarating once I discovered I could be more than a college professor or academic researcher. In addition to that, using my skills as a writer has brought me more fulfilment than I have ever experienced in my career.
I could not let that slide. I had to experience it fully and I’m glad I did.
That is why I left academia.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from navigating my career in the last few years is this: it is important to learn what unique skills YOU bring to the table. Mine was writing and communication. Then consider where you would find fulfillment, and then pursue that.
Will there be bumps? You bet. But it is well worth it. I promise.