For the first time in four years (or more!) I don’t have any forthcoming talks booked at the moment.
Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief. I’ve been deeply honoured and humbled by the interest in my work in recent years, but have also frequently found myself exhausted and overwhelmed by it. It takes time to plan a talk, and it takes a great deal of emotional energy to speak about topics such as institutional sexism or transphobia. Especially in the years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, I felt like I was almost constantly travelling to speak.
In theory, it was exactly the kind of attention I wanted for my research. In practice, I’ve had to spend a lot of time teaching myself to say “no”. I came to understand why various academics I asked to speak at events often didn’t even answer their emails. I suspect they simply didn’t have the ability to read them all, let alone answer. Meanwhile, there are plenty of researchers – especially “early career” academics – who don’t receive anything like the attention they deserve for their work.
I think academics especially have a strange, unhealthy approach to talks and conference presentations. After I began working in a full-time, salaried role for the first time in 2017 (who needs job security or sick pay in their 20s?!?) speaking about my research became sort of part of my job, but was rarely accounted for in any kind of formal work load. Talks generally don’t “count” like academic publications. At the same time, a lot of us find them an immensely useful way to share and learn about cutting-edge studies, and they can be so important for reaching beyond the academy and sharing findings with general audiences.
As a result, you will definitely see me announcing more talks soon. But I am trying to get better at working within my capacity. Part of this involves recommending other speakers who I know will benefit from the opportunity – that is, when I have time to reply to my external emails.