This week, I learned of two scholars that I care about that are taking medical leaves for emotional/family care/mental health reasons. I am thrilled that both fo them had the courage to take this step. I am proud of them. I am sad it came to this
Yet, in both cases, and this is not to blame them, there may have been things that they could have cut/reduced before. This is not to say that they had total choice in the contexts that lead up to them making this wise decision, but both may have internalized demands and expectations that may not have been fully the demands of the institutions.
Racism, sexism, and the intrusion of corporate capitalism into academic spaces all lead to the internalization of beliefs even when the structural barriers are not acting upon us. The same holds true for childhood experiences that have not been processed.
It is essential that we do the emotional work of teasing apart real expectations and demands verses those that we have internalized that no longer serve us.
We also have to do the hard work of learning to cut what can be cut, say no to what needs to be said no to, and work on our processes so we can be as efficient as we can.
Doing the internal work does not absolve oppressive and problematic institutions--there are changes that must be made--but we have to learn to control what can can control.