Desire vs Reality. And the winner is…

Have you ever wanted something badly but knew deep down in your soul you couldn’t have it? Strange how the want overwhelms reality. It makes you keep fighting for that last bit of hope, when deep down, you know it’s really just a pipe dream.

“Out of all of my professors from the Journalism school, Lisa helped best prepare me to enter a career in the field of strategic communication because of her real world experience and expertise.”

Then, others reinforce your want and tell you to go ahead and try for it. That your chances are good. You would be a strong contender.

“She possesses a teaching style that is motivational and inspirational. She strongly encourages her students to want to learn and be the best that they can be.”

You begin to really think you have a chance. You dare to hope. You want to drink the Kool-Aid.

“… her capstone teams have been among the best of all the teams over the last couple of years…the fact that her teams seem to turn out great work on a consistent basis would seem to indicate that Lisa is doing something very right.”

Deep down, you really want to believe what others are telling you. You begin to drink the Kool-Aid.

“Lisa was by far one of the most informative instructors I had throughout my time as an undergraduate. Her experiences, high expectations and wealth of knowledge truly pushed me to develop more creative ideas and to come into my role as a young professional.”

You continue to hope. And pray. And wish. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Student evaluation question: The instructor was excellent (average over past two years on a scale of 1-5, 5 being Strongly Agree) 4.55

And then there comes a point in time where reality returns and tears apart the dream. It becomes oh so apparent that, despite your very best effort, it wasn’t good enough.

Some of you remember I applied for a full-time strategic communications faculty position in strategic design or writing with the local J-school. Since I’d been an adjunct instructor for strat comm capstone projects for the past 5 years, when the opportunity opened up for a full-time position, I threw my hat in the ring for consideration. What began 5 years ago as a whim turned into a passion. A passion to interact with the next generation of professionals, and help them be everything they can be.

I took a shot at my dream. And lost.

The disappointment was crushing.

I really thought I had a decent shot at being considered.

Why wasn’t I good enough?

I doubt if I will every really get a straight answer to that question. Having letters of recommendation from a capstone client, the capstone coordinator and former students wasn’t good enough. Being in the industry 30 years wasn’t good enough. Being an adjunct instructor already working with advertising students wasn’t good enough.

What, exactly, would have been good enough?

But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My pity party lasted 5 days. In five days I went from stinging hurt to tearful sadness to bitter resentment to panicked self-doubt to seething anger to just plain I-don’t-give-a-$#!%. And now that it’s all said and done, I can honestly say that I. Don’t. Care. Sure, I wanted it. Badly. More than I’ve ever wanted any other job in my life. They didn’t think I was good enough. Does that make me any less confident I could have done the job, and done it well? Hell no.

My fourth day of pity partying, I realized this was NOT a referendum on my ability to teach effectively. After student presentations, I enjoyed their emails and notes thanking me for being hard on them; for teaching them what they needed to know; for being a good instructor.

And that’s all that matters. I don’t need my name on a door for validation. I don’t need to feel the pressure to devote massive hours to research in order to become published. I don’t need to possess or win awards so the stats look good. I may not have all those impressive credentials, but I can hold my head up, knowing I have positively impacted the learning process of more than 75 talented, future advertising professionals.

I know I’m effective. I know I can teach strategic design and writing. There is no doubt in my mind I would have been a great instructor for those positions. So, I’ll be happy doing what I’ve been doing for the past 5 years. The students that walk through my classroom door in January are all that matters. My focus and passion will be on them for 15 weeks. And that’s more than enough.

So…the winner is…Me!

8 thoughts on “Desire vs Reality. And the winner is…

  1. You can still publish! If that is one of your dreams, still go for it! And we all know, the best part of teaching will never be the pay, or the title, or the high fives from higher-ups, because we all know that although those things are wonderful, the best part of teaching is knowing you just helped a student to his or her a-hah moment. That, my friend, is why and many others do it. That, is what you will remember as an old lady. That, is a teacher’s drug of choice. And you will still be getting those doses of a-hah!


  2. I hate that you just went through this. And what’s worse is when you KNOW you’d be great at something, and you don’t get it. And you don’t know why.

    Making peace with that – for me – is the hardest. Sounds like you’re working on that.

    All those other affirmations of your skill and talent are pretty impressive. I’d take those to heart, and be damn proud of them.

    But the sting is still hard. Very hard.


  3. The sad thing is that too often these decisions are made by those in the position to do so not with the best interest of the students in mind, but with what might be “politically correct”. Kind of like our government – making decisions on what will serve the party and the individual best, not what would be best for the country. I hope that you truly are at peace with this, and recognize that the decision made is not necessarily a reflection on your abilities at all.


  4. Oh. That stinks. I too thought you were in with a good chance. Who knows why these things happen? Just tell yourself: They had their chance. They blew it.

    Anyway, what wonderful feedback you got. You can feel very proud of yourself.


  5. Oh kenzie! They lost big time! You are absolutely fantastic.

    I agree with Carol. There are so much politics involved with this process. I learned that the hard way too. This is NOT a reflection of your abilities. It’s a reflection of a flawed system.

    I love ya girlie!


  6. Thank you ladies. Your comments and well wishes mean a lot to me. I was a good exercise and pushed me to develop an online portfolio and really think about putting a teaching philosophy into words. Personally, that was a good experience for me.


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