In connection with attempts to comprehend myself, my unstable colleagues, my happy ones, and our students, have been reading in blogs and other writings by graduate students who are leaving, or have left, and conflicted about it. These academics had information gaps I did not before entering graduate school, but they also have profound insights I do not yet.
Some of the things they do not like about graduate school are the things I do not like about being a professor — namely the mind trips the profession is capable of laying upon one. This makes me realize it is “not just me.”
Some of their reasons for feeling conflicted, though, and for having gone to graduate school in the first place, are motives I do not relate to, for example prestige (going to graduate school because it was prestigious, feeling conflicted about quitting because that means giving up prestige).
I realize now that when I was quitting professordom and people were horrified, as they were, what they could not accept my renouncing were things like this putative prestige. This explains a great deal about some of the reactions I got.
I was seduced back in by the idea of doing research, but I believe the reason people wanted me back so much was that they could not face my willingness to lose the prestige they saw me as having.