Amid all of the wishes for a Happy New Year on Facebook and Twitter were hundreds of resolutions. Resolutions are an implicit reflection on what we could have done better in 2015 – the mistakes we made and shortcomings we had. I had shortcomings, certainly; in fact, that’s an understatement. My 2015 was full of (both glorious and inglorious) total failures, disappointments, messes, and the like – not only those, but definitely those. So I have a 2016 resolution – like most other people, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on how to improve the stuff I suck at. But then, I saw someone post this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon to Facebook. At first, my reaction was to chuckle – in part, because my personal life has been somewhat nomadic lately, and I have embraced it – so the ‘wing it’ mentality is pretty near and dear to me; but in part because, at New Year’s, we don’t think a lot about “staying the course.” It made me think about the things I think I might be doing right – the good decisions I’ve made and good strategies I’ve come up with even in the midst of the nomadism and messes. This is not to say that I’m winning whatever game, or that I have all the answers – I certainly have more flaws than victories, and more questions than answers. But I thought it might be good to start 2016 with a sense of what is working for me, as a baseline to think about what isn’t. So, here are ten things (in no particular order) I’m going to keep doing in 2016:
1. Look for opportunities to engage my multiple interests in the field rather than looking to fall into one mold.
My work is in gender and security – Feminist Security Studies, to be exact. That’s what drew me to graduate school when I had no interest in academia; that’s what drew me back into academia when I had left for the legal world. It is my passion, and it will be a central focus of my work for the rest of my career. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t explore other stuff that I’m interested in (the Interpretive Quantification project, for example). It also doesn’t mean that I have to – or even can – have one perspective on it. In some of my work in FSS, I’m drawn to mainstream-facing work thinking about how war theorizing might be different if gender were taken into account, to a variety of degrees. In other pieces, I’m drawn to poststructuralist analyses of the grotesque. Sometimes, it is women I think about, other times, its queer or trans- bodies. There are some common themes across this work. But there are also tensions and contradictions. Some are places I’ve come to disagree with myself – for example, as I’ve said before, I’ve come to think my first book was too optimistic about the Just War tradition. But most are places where I don’t have one perspective, one interest, or one understanding. I think that I’d lose my sense of exploration and my sense of why I do this if I tried to be just one of these things. I know there are those who find following multiple paths problematic. But I’m not one of them, and I’m going to aim to keep being not one of them.
2. Put editing work and service work first.