Just Because

Autonomy, Variety and Intellectual Challenge

So, I did this little quiz on what kind of an entrepreneur I should be, if I was going to be one. It was quite simple, just 3 slots into which you place the three qualities you value most at work. I chose autonomy, variety and intellectual challenge. And the short reading that came back said I should start my business early, find a reliable second for when I want to wander around and diversify. Hmmm…interesting but not really earth-shattering or even new advice.

Then why mention this? It came to me after a highly frustrating day dealing with administrivia and the psychological strain of knowing a journal article needs to be written, the research has been done and the structure is all laid out BUT I cannot settle into writing because there are a million and one other tasks that need to be seen to for the classes to run smoothly.

The combination of stress I describe is quite common in academia and not a surprise to anyone. I bring it up here because, guess what? I do have a good degree of autonomy in my work, there is certainly variety and no question whatsoever about intellectual challenge! So I do have what I want. I just have to stop trying to do everything at once. Maybe  even allow for these first 2 weeks of semester to be entirely about teaching, its minutiae and its wonders. Yes, I think that works.

Tomorrow I deliver my second lecture. It’s all prepared and I’m churning it over in my mind, searching for the right phrases, placing and positioning elements so they flow better and make for a better narrative. And yes, it is a narrative. For me, every lecture is a story I tell about the topic. It’s the sense I have made of the issues in question. For now. It may change, it most likely will change because I do switch viewpoints as I gather information. All I can do is tell or should that be ‘show’ them what I know and leave the students to try and make their own sense of the world.

Here’s hoping tomorrow’s lecture works out.


I'm a research fellow at an Australian university where I work on a number of projects. These include projects to do with new media and migration and the Chinese diaspora in Australia, projects on the Malaysian internet, ethno-religious issues in Singapore and Malaysia. And, before I forget many of the photos I use on this site were taken by my sister, Jessie and myself. All rights are reserved.

And so it goes...