We both know this isn't really working out. But even so, I've been looking at you lately and thinking of all the things I love about you. There are so many little things I often take for granted, like being able to walk over to the tuna research center on any given morning and borrow a few thawed squid. Free access to almost any journal online, and a librarian who'll find anything I can't. The opportunity to mess about in boats. Somewhere to store my dive gear. I'm grateful for these small conveniences you've given me. And for the big gifts, too, like the trip to Ecuador and the new computer. Academia, even if I leave you, I want to remember the good times.
I just have my doubts whether it can ever work out between us. You've got so much baggage, and yes, you've acknowledged some of it, and you're in therapy, and I'm proud of you. But I still have to look out for myself. I don't want to get sucked into your issues and messed up for the rest of my life.
Academia, maybe we can take a break? I need a little time to see other careers before I commit. I think I got involved with you too young: I just rushed into this without taking any time to explore all the options. I can hear you now, asking if I've met someone else. Well, yes and no. I haven't been cheating on you, academia, I haven't gotten paid to do anything else. But you know I've been friends with writing for years, since before I met you. Even when you've been at your neediest, sapping all my energy and attention, I still made time for writing. And when you and I had our big fights, writing was there for me. I'd always thought of writing as a hobby, but lately I've been wondering if I could make it a career. You can't blame me for wondering! I need to give it a try, at least.
Even if I leave you for writing, academia, I want to stay friends. After all, I'd be a science writer! We could still see quite a lot of each other. And maybe it would be a better relationship, with less pressure. We could just relax and have fun whenever we get together.
You've probably seen this coming for a while. I haven't always been kind in the things I've said about you. But I wasn't sure how to break it to you. Now I'm writing this letter to let you know how I'm feeling, but that I'm not going to end it just yet. You still have a shot at keeping me, if you want. I'm applying for a fellowship that will fund my last two years of grad school, and comes packaged with a recruiting program for the professoriate. Workshops, training, mentoring, that sort of thing. So here's my offer: If I get the funding, I'll go into it with an open mind. I'll let them try to recruit me. Make yourself tempting, academia, and I'll seriously consider a commitment. Deal?
Oh, and don't be mad at writing. Sometimes it's all I've got to keep me sane.