To say what I've given up by being an academic goes against the grain for me. I can hardly imagine another way of life. Also, I hate the negativity in academic discourse. But, following the meme from Z, squadratomagico, Dame Eleanor Hull, and Clarissa, I will give it a try.
1. Obviously, my marriage failed [at least in part] because I could not live with my family. Although I love KU and Lawrence now, I would have never chosen to go there. I also have almost no mobility. There were zero jobs fitting my profile in the last MLA list. My only options are to become an administrator, whether at KU or somewhere else. But I am lousy at administration.
2. I don't know how much I would be making in another line of work. My salary is lousy, but other full professors in my department do not share that fate, so is that because I am academic, or because I am bad at salary negotiations? Or not assertive enough? In the wrong field? If I had the 100 thousand that seems standard for someone in my position at my kind of institution, I would be doing fine. I'll settle for 90. I guess the salary and the lack of the ability to live where I want are two sides of the same coin.
3. I wanted to be a poet. I am a critic instead. Did I give this up because I am academic, or because I found out that I am an extraordinary critic but only a very, very competent poet? Because I am more temperamentally suited to the kind of brain exercise that academic prose gives me? I have to take responsibility for my failure as a poet. I simply cannot stand the vulnerability of ego involved in defining myself that way.
In short, I cannot blame my woes on the fact that I am an academic. My marriage might have failed sooner if I lived with her the whole time, and that might have been a good thing. I might be making less money as a failed poet who is not a professor. My life is pretty good, over all, with a new relationship after my recent divorce.