It’s a Friday night at 10 pm. My toddler is sleeping beside me. I just spent the past hour browsing conference programs, finding potential colleagues on Twitter, and dipping my toe into the waters of academic Patreon. It’s 10 pm on a Friday and I’m engaging in activities some might classify as work. But to me they feel like play.

I submitted the last of my parental leave work today. I will finish my last bit of coursework next week.

Today I wrote two research prospectuses, both related to game-based learning in libraries. Earlier this week, I planned a partnership to leverage fandom for making the world a better place.

I am done with the tyranny of other people’s syllabi and it feels amazing.

I have had excellent professors who taught excellent courses and I have been either fortunate or strategic about following my interests in fulfilling my assignments. And yet today, when the only work I have to do is the work I have designed (because even my assistantship is something I was part of designing), I feel lighter. Like after two and a half years of getting by, I can finally manage to do the work I started this degree program to do.

I told myself that I would take a true break from work over winter vacation, but now I know that’s not what I want. I want to get moving on this work - work that fills my cup rather than emptying it, work that feels like play, work that keeps me up past my bedtime because I want it to.

I am aware of how academia works. I know this feeling won’t last.

But today… Today I’m filled with excitement about what comes next.