Ana K. Wrenn portrait



The last lecture has been delivered. The last paper has been reviewed. The last grades have been submitted. It’s time to begin the process of letting go.

Letting go of my old life, old titles, old expectations, old aspirations. Letting go of my role as a professor, of my classrooms where I taught, of my office where I sat with generations of students, some weeping, some laughing, and some overwhelmed by their own process of letting go.

I’m retiring from my university and starting to embrace another life, a terrifying but exhilarating one: fulltime authorpreneur, a writer who creates and manages promotion of their own works.

Academia has been my home for decades now. I grew up on a campus, the daughter of a professor and public-school teacher, both of whom were entrenched in their own ways in university life.

For so long, I’ve been a college student, a graduate student. I watched Dad teach, receive awards, then retire. I watched mom finish her undergraduate degree, and I sat in an auditorium that glowed in golden light and warm browns as she walked across the stage to claim her diploma for a master’s in education. I too would walk across several stages, earning multiple degrees on my way to becoming a professor.

After all this time, I wonder if the academic mask has gotten glued to my face, to paraphrase Sue Monk Kidd. It’s time to retire that mask, though.

Transitions are difficult for most of us. Transformations are even more so. To transition is to connect one point to another. For example, I could’ve gone onto another academic position at another university or even moved into administration. To me, that would’ve involved transitioning.

Instead, I’m transforming from fulltime professor to fulltime writer, a mutation from one form of existence to another.

More than just changing my physical setting, I’ll change pretty much everything, especially my professional DNA. My rituals will change. My uniform will change. My flight patterns will even change: no longer will I migrate to campus before dawn or hurl myself through spring rain, winter snow, or summer heat to reach my classes or meetings on time.

Blessedly, I will also have no annual faculty reports. Neither will I have to “prove” to various administrators the worth of my works. My daily schedule will be one I set. My goals will be mine too: to establish, to attain. I’ll have new rituals and uniforms, and new communities and relationships too.

It’s going to be an interesting transformation, and I have no clue how it’s going to go. I just know that it’s time to lean into unknown spaces.

It’s time for another becoming.