That's right, the worst has happened, and it's the best thing ever. I'm not at all interested in going back to academia. After a month-long break, I finally got enough perspective on my situation to see that I never aspired to a professorial position in the first place. I was pushing myself that way because I'd had the idea that any other course would be a waste of my talents implanted in my brain and it was difficult to shake. Almost every day, I ride the bus past one of the university campuses here and I am grateful I didn't decide to work there.
I feel as if the world has been opened up to me. Suddenly, it is possible for me to remake myself. Nobody's expectations are being thrust in my face. No one is disappointed in me for not choosing what they think I ought to have done. I take a huge delight in talking with the people I meet and not telling them anything about my educational background or my work experience. My identity is no longer tied to the academy. I am poor. I am no one. I am so happy, it's absurd.