In the works…

So this post has been percolating for a while.  There’s something that has been lingering in the back of my mind for years, and I closed my ears to it.  I closed my mind to it.  I persevered.  But now…

…I’m thinking of leaving the ph.d.

There, I said it.  And it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be.  Partly because I’ve been saying it quite a bit the past couple of days.  Some background: I’ve been in graduate school in some form or another for the last 8 years.  I have a MA in history, will be finishing my MA in english in August, and am accepted into a fully-funded ph.d. program beginning this fall.

And I don’t think I want to do it.  I can do it, but I don’t think I want to.

I have always loved school, but it’s getting to the point where I don’t even enjoy the fundamental tasks of my job as a grad student.  I’m not enjoying seminars, the writing leaves me paralyzed, and I find myself looking longingly at courses in other departments.  Indeed, the only thing I seem to enjoy is walking across campus with a coffee in hand.  And quite frankly, that’s not exactly a reason to get a ph.d.

For years I always thought that I didn’t know who I was.  I spent so much time worrying about what other people thought about me that I never took myself into account.  But I’ve recently discovered that I know enough about myself to recognize that I don’t like the person I’m becoming.  I feel like I’m well on my way to being Ebeneezer Scrooge before he spent an insomniac night with three ghosts and found his inner self.  There’s more to it, but ultimately, it comes down to happiness.  I would like to travel.  I’d like to pay down my debt.  I think I’d like to become a librarian.  I’d like to enjoy writing and reading again.

So I might become an adjunct composition instructor, something I NEVER thought I would enjoy. I could still walk on campus with coffee in my hand (hell, grading those papers practically requires a caffeine drip). I could teach (which I love), I could eventually enroll in library school, and I could have time to be with Apparent Dip, with my family, and, of course, with the four idiot cats who run our lives.  Hell, I might even have time to knit again! Or learn Arabic. Practice my French/German/Russian.  Take piano lessons again.  The possibilities are endless.

So do I do it?


10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christine on June 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Go to library school! It isn’t a very long program, it’s interesting and when you are done, you can still walk across campus with coffee in hand-to your office in the library. Plus you still get to teach students-and they are really grateful for your help, which makes it so rewarding! This is, of course, coming from a librarian so might be a bit biased. Also, with your two other MA’s you’ll be a very desirable hire!


  2. Definitely! If you have doubts at all about a Ph.D program, it makes sense to me to do something else. Ph.D.s take so long to get and the job prospects are dismal that unless you can’t imagine doing anything else, I wouldn’t do one.


  3. Yeh, if you don’t love every minute and really really want it more than anything else, it’s probably a good idea not to do it. The job market was already imploding and now it’s going to get even worse. And if you want a job but aren’t willing to do a national search, because of Apparent Dip, then it aint gonna happen. 😦


  4. Posted by iloveapplesandlint on June 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Okay, I ran across your blog via “random blog” button and figured I’d read it.
    I can relate to the whole school thing too. I graduated high school and did what everyone expected of me, I went to university for chemistry. I had a natural ability for it and I just assumed that’s what I should do. Then, I discovered psychology and fell in love with it (and fell out of love with organic chemistry). And now I find myself going back to chemistry again. I just can’t decide what I want to do. I know I can do either and do well, but I don’t really know what I want to do.

    …so random comment and all, but I just thought I’d share.
    And I saw in an earlier post that you had nutella. I love that stuff! I couldn’t find it for years in the States, but there is heaps of it here in Australia. It’s awesome!

    BTW, I’m Kristin. Hello.


  5. Posted by Linda B on June 17, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    There is a big world out there and just because you do not have a PhD does not mean you stop learning and examining your life. If you are not happy with yourself and who you have become, you can bet that you are in the wrong place in your life. Life will never be a walk in the park (ok maybe a walk across campus with coffee in your hand) but you should enjoy your life. We do not get any do-overs and if you cannot be happy with what you are doing then you should turn away, nay run away and laugh and love life to the fullest.


  6. Good for you! Maybe just knowing you can do it, even if you don’t want to, is enough.


  7. Good for you. I can do nothing but support someone who decides to go to library school, especially in this day and age when you get to learn so much cool stuff. And who knows where it might lead you? My library degree led to a job in reference publishing, something I had no idea it would do, and I’ve never regretted that.


  8. If you don’t take the PhD on now, it’s not as though you are turning your back forever. You can always come back to it. When I was contemplating a PhD (which I still am in the back of my mind), the advice was not to do it unless it was something I was passionate about. Otherwise, it’s too tough.


  9. Seriously, with 2 MAs you would be so ahead of the game if you became a librarian. Could work in an academic setting, but in the library. Great idea.


  10. Posted by onlyme on July 22, 2009 at 10:51 am

    get out now. seriously. at least, take a leave of absence for a year and decide if you REALLY want to go back– it could just be end-of-MA burnout, but even if it is, there are MANY better options. I just got a PhD in 2008, there are no jobs, and it sucks.


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