I’m a relatively fresh history professor at the community college level. People might not realize that history professors usually have a specialization. Things like labor history or popular history, Civil War history or 19th century history. My specialty is something known as environmental history. Environmental historians focus on the relationship between humans and their environment. We’re basically no fun to talk to at parties because we’re something of the traditional “party-pooper,” but with more facts and “bum you out” talking points.
My students have told me that I’m on their lists of “crazy professors,” but I promise they mean it in a good way. I’m fortunate enough to I love what I do for a living. Only 20% of Americans actually like their job or find it meaningful anymore, according to a recent scientific article I read. That means only 1 in 5 people actually like what they do for a living. Another 20% of Americans not only dislike their job, they’re actively engaged in trying to sabotage their employer from within like something out of Shakespeare’s King Lear. That leaves the other 60% of people who are simply working for the paycheck. This is a staggering statistic to me. It reveals how miserable things have gotten for people. I am fortunate that I love what I do for a living. I wake up excited to go to work in the morning.
I’ve come to understand from my reading that there are 3 things that will determine your happiness in your career:
- Having autonomy in deciding how you reach the work objective
- Feeling like what you do makes a difference
- The feeling that putting in extra effort brings visible rewards
As a college professor, I get a ton of autonomy in designing my classes. I know that what I do for my students makes a difference. And I can plainly see that pouring myself into my classes shows dividends in the quality of my lessons. As part of my job, I pretty much have to be an auto-didact. I listen to audiobooks for like 2 hours a day during my daily walks and commute to work. I read every day. I seldom watch television except when I eat a meal (or if I get rained out from walking outside and have to walk on my treadmill instead). I’m an avid TED conference viewer. I’m constantly downloading TED videos or hitting the “watch later” button for my YouTube account.
So that’s a little bit about me and what I do for a living. It certainly isn’t by writing this blog. You may notice the huge amount of time that lapses between articles. This is because I’m super busy and this blog is simply a hobby. I pay WordPress about $13 to have a dot.com. I do that with the hopes that it’s easier for my viewers to remember this site and pass it along.
You might be wondering about my writing career since this is a blog. I’ve always considered myself a writer, but I haven’t been recognized with publication yet, mostly because writing a book in the past has eluded me. But during grad school I was fortunate to have my thesis chair (also my favorite professor and mentor) recommend that I approach my Master’s thesis as an attempt to write a great American “pop” history book. That’s exactly what I did and my thesis committee was elated with the prospect of it becoming a best-selling book. Now I just have to get it published as an unknown author.
I’d like to thank you for showing interest in my blog and clicking the “About me” page. Creating this blog in 2011 gave me a sense that I could actually write things that people want to read. Aspiring writers are in an interesting and difficult position. Writing is part of our identity, but there is a struggle to identify as a writer before one has been recognized with publication. It used to seem conceited to me to claim myself as a writer. But I’ve grown past that hestitation now, because I know that whether I am published or not, my love of writing creatively is part of who I am. I’ve devoted a lot of time to honing my talents. This blog is a testing grounds for me to get my ideas out there. Thanks for visiting.
I encourage you to leave comments and feedback. I like to see what my readers think about various articles. If you like something you read here or have feedback, let me know with a comment! I appreciate reading them!