This coming Monday will be my five-year blogging anniversary. (Five years?! Time flies, et cetera et cetera.) When I started my old blog, I intended it to be primarily about my transition out of academia. Around the time I started the blog, I had the "I don't think I want to do this anymore" conversation with my dissertation adviser; he didn't have any more ideas than I did at the time about what kinds of "alternative careers" might work for a fugitive English literature Ph.D., but he said he thought that whatever I ended up doing, I'd be doing something really cool in five years' time. And he turned out to be right: here I am, having reinvented myself as a librarian, about to start a great new job, with four years of highly varied and very interesting experience under my belt. In some ways I haven't wandered all that far from academia — I did end up as an academic librarian, after all, and I'll be putting my subject knowledge to good use as a liaison to the English department — but in other ways, the distance between who I was then and who I am now is immense.
The biggest change is that, while I still follow what's going on in English studies to some extent (albeit less than I used to), my relation to the field is much less personal. When I scan the contents of new journal issues, it's for professional awareness as a librarian more than for my own research. And when I do read something in one of my areas of interest, I don't feel obligated to stake out my own position in the critical debate unless I really want to. There's a whole other set of professional debates to join instead. And I don't define myself as an academic before anything else, the way I used to when I ate, slept, and breathed my (former) profession. My identity no longer hinges on my being a Literature Person, although that part of me is certainly still there. I think, on the whole, that this is a very good thing for my sanity.
It's like standing at the fringe of a group of people at a party. In the past, I'd have been desperately trying to join the group, to say something clever, to change the course of the conversation, to get the rest of the people to accept me (because if they didn't, it would mean I was an abysmal failure), and to avoid revealing how ignorant I really felt. Now, I'm much more relaxed; I can join in if I want to, or drift off and talk to someone else. My sense of worth isn't bound up with joining that one group. I've already been welcomed into a different group, a big friendly heterogeneous one with lots of interesting topics of conversation, and I'm no longer worried about winding up alone in a corner.
Where I am as a blogger is a trickier question. If my referrer stats are any indication, people are still reading, but not in the same numbers as they used to. I don't know if this is due to my mixed-topic blogging (part library, part literature, part opera, part random outtakes from daily life), or what. But I don't think I'm in any danger of shutting up any time soon. To all of you reading this, thank you for coming back!