Well, this is where I’m at now. (But where is that, exactly?)

Hello to those of you who have recently discovered this blog, especially to those of you who left such lovely comments. (I will, belatedly, try to respond to some of them.) Thanks also to JC for linking to me!

I feel remiss for sort of abandoning this blog recently—I felt a few weeks of shaky exhilaration about the idea of leaving, and then as February got underway I had to deal with the fact that I haven’t left yet and have a pretty busy term with papers to grade and papers to write. Even today, I really should have been working on an article draft, but instead I wasted the day in bed, crying intermittently about my life, and stuffing my face. While this did require leaving my house to get food, I mostly brought it back home and ate it, yes, in bed. Sometimes I even almost cried en route to procuring food. There is nothing that makes me feel like less of a failure than being an adult woman who nearly bursts into tears while walking down the street on a cold, but otherwise lovely, Tuesday morning. It doesn’t help that this is the first day I’ve been able to just be at home in about nine days, since I also started working my second (third, really?) job again, which dominates my weekends and is utterly exhausting. But I feel like I have to hang on to it, because what if I just really need some part-time hours after I leave school? Or if I decide to stay but still need to pay the bills this summer? But if only I had those weekends to write that article draft. Or, you know, to have a weekend.

(With that in mind, it’s also kind of hilarious that my university-provided therapist seemed to think I was doing so! much! better! just because I happened to be having a better-than-usual day when I last saw her a few weeks ago. On the one hand, I’m very grateful to have pretty good health insurance and am anxious about losing it if/when I leave school. [I hate the dentist, but blergh, I really need to get my teeth cleaned and examined while I still can!] On the other hand, the mental health services at my school still leave a lot to be desired. Grad students tend to have issues that can’t just be resolved in six to eight sessions, you know?)

At least, as I’ve been doing the professionalization activities that I’ve had to do, I haven’t felt any renewed desire for the academic life. Mostly, I’ve felt bitter and irritated with myself for agreeing to do these things. Deep-down, I don’t really think academia as a whole is stupid and pointless, but I feel like a lot of stupid and pointless bullshit is happening around me these days. Yes, there are a lot of brilliant academics and I respect and admire their work, but a lot of this just feels like such a waste of time and energy. At this point, I frequently want to just say “Fuck it!” (loudly, in public) and flounce off.

So, I’m in this sort of weird limbo right now. It’s essentially the same situation I’ve been in for the last month or more, but my advisor knows now that I want to leave, and (s)he is thankfully a very practical and understanding person. But I won’t get to have an extended talk with Advisor for another week, and I’m not sure exactly what’s going to be worked out then. Hopefully a plan for what (if anything) I need to do to leave with a Master’s. In the meantime, I need to get a draft of this #*@&! article ready, even though I don’t care about getting it published ever (that probably sounds like a weird situation, but I’m trying to remain vague-ish). I’m also worrying a lot about what will come after I leave, what kind of job I might get and how long that might take, but I think I’ll leave that as a post for another day.

I guess next week may be a big week: meeting with Advisor (which I’m looking forward to), therapy appointment in which I will have to advocate for myself to get what I actually need (ugh, ugh).

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4 responses

  1. Currer Bell

    Ah, eating and crying. My two mainstays of the post-academic transition!

    Does your program not offer a terminal MA? I had a friend who enrolled in a PhD program and left after a year. The department was baffled as to how to accommodate her request for a MA and wrap up. Good luck!

    February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    • prepostacademic

      Good to know it’s not just me!

      We do have a terminal MA, and I actually filed for it (even paid the filing fee!) a few years ago. I never actually finished (or, really, started) writing the thesis because I felt like I was dragging my feet and I just needed to move on towards the dissertation. So, now I need to find out if I can spend the spring converting my dissertation work into a thesis (which would be totally doable) or what. I think the department will be equipped to help me leave with an MA — a couple people have taken an MA after two years and gone on to do other things (if only I had been one of them!). Some people who come into the program straight after their bachelor’s get the MA along the way, which is what I tried to do, but unfortunately the program doesn’t have a good, streamlined way of going about it. You just kind of have to churn it out between preliminary exams and starting the diss, usually. And unfortunately some people in the department don’t seem to understand why anyone would even want to do this.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:18 pm

  2. JC

    Hey! No problem about linking to your blog. I always check out the source of new traffic to my blog. I never mean to freak anyone out, but I know how much better I felt about wanting to leave once I saw that there were other people reading my blog (and apparently feeling similarly to me). I hope I didn’t freak you out!

    Don’t feel bad at all about not immediately leaving. It’s not an overnight process for most of us! Even though I made the decision to leave on one specific day last year, I was still finishing up various obligations for the next few months … and actually just did a final revision *last week* on a paper that I wrote with a grad student colleague that she is trying to get published. Leaving academia isn’t an overnight process.

    Anyway, crying a bit is normal (in my experience), and will probably get better with time. It’s normal to feel a loss or some regret over the whole thing – it’s a huge decision and a huge reversal of the course you thought your life was taking. It’s completely reasonable to be a little bit emotional over it. The big thing that I’d say is that if you haven’t felt any desire to go back to academia, you’re making the right decision.

    Good luck on your advisor meeting and your therapist meeting (I agree – school therapists aren’t the best. I did much better with an outside one).

    Oh, and based on the type of job ads I’ve seen out there and the reactions people have had to my resume, I’d say that if you can find a way to get the MA before leaving, do it. A masters’ is a resume boost, AND it will help explain on your resume how you’ve been occupying your time for the past couple of years.

    Good luck!

    March 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm

  3. Yep. Crying, eating and lying in bed are definitely ways of dealing with life when you have a bad day. I usually add listening to awesome music and reading novels too. My favourite way of avoiding life is to actually read novels. So much more interesting than academic texts (mostly) and if I am really out of my mind with stress and worry they keep me absorbed/focused on something wholly irrelevant and send me to sleep if I need it. Then life just seems that little bit better after a nap. Sounds like you’re not in the best place right now, so be kind to yourself. Life has a way of figuring itself out in the long run. So what if you skipped a few days cause you were busy sleeping/eating/reading.

    March 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

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