And everyone wants to know, how did I decide? I didn't actually wait to hear the reaction from the other college at which I was interviewing. For one thing, I realized that the ongoing stress of making a decision was costing me the glow and excitement of being recognized as a good teacher and wanted for these positions. For another thing, I came to a conclusion about the one thing that was making me hesitant to accept the offer.
The visit couldn't have been more perfect. I liked the people I met with (as well as could be expected from meeting most of them for only half an hour), I liked the town, I liked the building and the setup of the offices and classroom, I liked everything I heard about the courses I could teach and the life of the faculty member. I've asked a few follow-up questions via email, and each one has come in perfectly. Even the fact that it's a 3-year visiting position couldn't detract from the offer. Sure, being offered a tenure-track position straight out of grad school would have been nice, but a lot can happen in 3 years, from economic improvement prompting them to make a tenure-track position to me discovering a wanderlust that has me happy to explore other colleges.
The only, only part of the job that made me hesitant was that it was in my less-favored sub-field. Research in that sub-field is hard, especially on a limited budget, in a small town. I've spent much of the past week chewing my lip over the question of whether I could be successful as a researcher in that situation, thinking that it would be so much easier (and cheaper) to be in my preferred sub-field instead.
First, I wondered if I was just being lazy. Then, thinking about the other position in preparing for my phone interviews, I realized that the sub-field aspect was just masking a much more general problem: I was insecure. Some part of me is absolutely terrified that when I am no longer under my advisor's continual guidance, I will cease being anything like a successful researcher; that I will stop being able to design successful experiments, write good posters and journal articles, know where to submit them. It is a terror that applies equally well to any position.
With that terror firmly quenched - or rather, with the firm decision that I would not let the ongoing terror rule my future - the decision was easy. As I wrote to the chair in my acceptance email, I simply cannot imagine a place that would be closer to the ideal I had in mind when I was deciding to apply to liberal arts colleges. There was no reason to turn this down, no possibility that a better offer could come along.Now, I have that glow and excitement about the future again. And I just have to find a way to keep the dissertation from overwhelming it.