Here’s the thing about adversity: even when you brace yourself for it, even when you know it’s coming and there’s no way to stop it, getting hit still hurts. It doesn’t matter how Stoic you are — pain does not cease to be pain, loss does not cease to be loss, failure does not cease to be failure. To prepare for the worst, as the Stoics advise, is not a panacea. It is not healing (although it can make healing possible).
Having the right attitude toward adverse circumstances does not really make them good. It may, however, make them bearable. Loving a thing for its temporary nature includes the realization of inevitable loss. Knowing that the loss is coming doesn’t necessarily stop it from hurting. It just might make it a loss you can take, though, and that can make all the difference when it comes to moving on.
I’m in an odd place right now, a sort of slow-motion loss. Sometimes, losing an academic position (while having quite a lot of time to find another) is a bit like having a terminal job disease, or a kind of barely-treated occupational leprosy (complete with all of the social isolation that used to go with that condition). I know exactly when the end is, and there was never really anything I could do about it (when they eliminate your program, tenure is meaningless). It has already arrived, really — it’s just waiting to settle in to reality. I knew it was coming before it arrived, and prepared what I could prepare. I am currently deep into working on Career Plan B, having realized the incipient failure of Career Plan A a little more than a year and a half ago, when my soon-to-be-former employer started “prioritizing” things. I am at the mercy of the job market in my original academic field (not pretty), and of the job market outside of academia (where I still need to find my place).
All I can do is keep on plugging. I know the next hit’s coming — I know almost exactly when it will arrive. So I plan, and I work, and I do what it is possible for me to do.
It’s still going to hurt when it gets here.
I’ll just have to do what I can.