Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 14 seconds
So I am at this stage of my career where I am not really sure when someone invites me to do something (give a talk f2f, participate in an online event, write something), whether to take it as an honor or a favor.
Correction. My default mode is to consider it an honor, and try really hard to do it. I hate saying no. I love being asked, my automatic reaction is to feel honored. I am inviting lots of people to lots of things these days and wondering how they take em. I tend to assume people will take things as an honor to be invited.
I find these opportunities extremely rewarding. I love meeting new people and writing for new audiences. I love the process of preparing talks or writing things I hadn’t thought of writing in places I hadn’t thought to publish.
But I am starting to realize how much of an effort these things are.
Every place I commit to write to is one less piece of sroting of my own choice. This is fine for place like Hybrid Pedagogy, Al-Fanar and Prof Hacker who are “my people” and the kidn of people I like to write for/with, and the relationship is reciprocal. I benefit as they amplify my voice. They benefit from my commitment to write, and I am guessing from having someone from somewhere like Egypt bring a slightly different perspective, or something 🙂 But for every article I write for a closed-access location, I miss out on an open access option. And for every unpaid written word, I miss out on opportunities to write for money (that, technically, I don’t “need”, but comes in handy for little extras I don’t want to feel guilty over).
More importantly, it’s taxing on family. And work. Timewise, if nothing else.
How do I make these decisions! Do I pick the ones at are convenient and won’t require me to find babysitting? This ends up being mostly online stuff at night or f2f stuff during working hours – i.e. Sacrifice a work say or hours of sleep.
Do I pick the ones that are most fun? Do I pick the ones that are most likely to expand my circles, improve careeer opportunities like future research opportunities?
It matters, of course, where the power lies. Who benefits more, me or those who invited me? Both? It’s difficult to measure and impossible to quantify but it depends greatly on stage of career. And of life. Of what we can afford to do with our free time and how much freedom of time we have altogether, both in terms of amount of time to ourselves and how much liberty we have to spend it on things that don’t directly affect promotion at work or benefit our family or help us grow as individuals at least.
I’m also starting to find ways of making something count twice. For example, recently, another mom and I thought the best way for her to find a time to listen to me give a talk might be to meet someplace where our kids can play nearby! (And why not?)
I also have a few things coming up where I feel I am working with peole where we are all doing each other favors all over the place all the time. Or honoring each other, or donating our unpaid labor to each other.
Because here it is. When it is about organizations and people it is unpaid labor and exploitation.
When it is between friends exchanging unpaid labor, it’s a labor of love.
It is a tricky and shifting line. I am still dancing on it. I just hope people won,t exploit my love and friendship and favors and my feeling honored” when they can do more than just honor me and do more.