Maine is one of my favorite places. My best friend and I drove to Acadia National Park to celebrate turning 30 several years ago and when it came time to leave neither of us was really ready to pack up.
It had been a difficult few years leading up to our trip and it was the first time either of us had really stopped to breathe.
This summer I won't be driving to Maine, instead I'll be packing my things up to move to Ohio where I will begin teaching at Miami University in the fall. There will be no endless vistas for me, but there will be a leaning out not unlike that I experienced in Acadia.
My friends and I are calling this summer a number of different things: The Summer of Radical Self Care, The Summer of Leaning the F*ck Out, there was maybe something involving unicorns I don't remember.
It's a very necessary leaning out, for all of us. We've all been leaning in so hard and so long we probably should have portable flying buttresses to help keep us propped up at this point.
We are all, I should mention, women. Which is important if you've been following at all the conversation around this idea that women need to "lean in" to their careers to achieve much of anything.
What maybe some people don't understand, and what the author of the book Lean In seems to ignore, is that women already are leaning in -- we lean in to everything. Our jobs, our studies if we're students, our relationships, our children if we have them, our friendships, our communities.
Women lean into everything because we have always been expected to do so.
When it comes to careers that leaning in has been necessary, because for every mentor you have that is willing to help build you up you have scores of others chomping at your heels, trying to drag you down or looking to belittle your contributions.
I am emerging from graduate school. An endeavor that I have loved. I have always loved being in school and knew, when I was still working on my bachelor's degree what seems like a thousand years ago, that I was going to pursue a PhD at some point.
My experience during my studies has been largely one of support, fellowship, and a real feeling that I am engaged in the life of the mind. But there have certainly been moments when classmates have come after me not necessarily because of my contributions but because I am a women. There have been interactions with individuals that were at the very least disrespectful and at the worst unethical, due in part to my being a woman.
Graduate school, academia, is all about leaning in. Leaning so hard and so deep into your work that you get it done, you wipe the floor with the jerks, and you get out.
At the end, as you celebrate, you can't help feeling a little chewed up.
Those of us who get as far as I have and my mentors who are in ensconced in academia have done nothing but lean in our entire lives.
We don't have to be told to lean in. Or work harder. Or sacrifice. Or whatever else you might say to us as we pursue our careers and our lives.
We've been doing it before we knew it was a thing to do.
And things have suffered at times for it.
'For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.'
That opposite reaction this summer is to lean out as far as I can, as far as we can, so that when the new academic year rolls around we can plunge back into the thick of it with the enthusiasm and love of learning that pushed us down this path in the first place.
So, please, do not tell me to 'lean in' or anything like it. I will be leaning into something this summer that I have neglected for far too long.