When it happens it’s a quiet thing.
I didn’t expect it to come with trumpets or fanfare, of course — indeed I can’t say that I’d ever thought about what to expect at all — but now that it’s here I find myself thinking about the how even as I contemplate the what.
It’s a few brief sentences on a one-page letter in a nondescript envelope slipped in with the departmental mail.
It’s a job for life.
Getting tenure is the great leap in academia, the guarantee of freedom from political influence or educational blackmail. It’s the golden goal we strive to reach. It’s the bar set high, and I’ve cleared it.
Barring something extraordinary, I have a job for life. By a blessed stroke of fortune, it’s even a job I enjoy, a job I seem to be pretty darn good at.
To say that this makes me happy would be to say too little. It’s positively thrilling. It puffs me up a bit with pride for having achieved it even as I’m humbled with the thoughts of all those whose help got me to this place. The influential teachers. The wonderful students. The supportive colleagues. The great friends.
I’m glad. I’m grateful.
There is relief, too. Relief to be done with the mechanical tedium of the process. Relief just to know. It doesn’t matter how much other people thought this conclusion was “in the bag”; I’m a prepare-for-the-worst kind of guy. To have it all done and to have it come out for the good … well, at moments I confess I’m even a little giddy.
So many people in this world live in want. So many live in worry. Here, on a tri-folded piece of copier paper, is a kind of release from it all. A job for life.
Security, when it happens, is a quiet thing.
But it is not a small thing.