“For the first time in my life there is no logical next step and it’s fucking amazing.” That was supposed to be the first sentence of this blog post. I had meant to finish it weeks ago but never got around to it. Perspectives shift when you’re actually in the middle of it. I guess that’s why they call it lived experience. Along with the “fucking amazing” there is a more grounded sense of unease, but it’s not fear. It’s not like the feeling before the drop on a roller coaster, it’s more like you’re a kid on the first day of school. Nothing is worn, the pencils are fresh and there is the potential for something new. I’m not just standing on a conveyor belt. I’m actually thinking about what it is I want.
The last time I did this was when I was failing miserably at a science undergrad and basically felt like a big fat loser. I use the word “fat” because it was when I was the heaviest. I’m an emotional eater so I also seem to gain a few pounds when things aren’t at its finest. What was worse though was losing my confidence and questioning my level of intelligence. This was precisely the turning point when I needed to put on the boots and sludge through something I hated or work towards a goal I loved. Both paths required the Wellies and hate to say it but some shit to walk through. So I chose for it to be meaningful and close to my heart, even if that meant not having a B.Sc but god forbid a B.A and feeling the weight of my parents’ disappointment for close to a year. In a family with a long line of physicians a Bachelor of Arts degree probably seems like I majored in basket weaving. For me personally, it was far more valuable than knowing the table of elements and quantitative formulas. It provided me with critical thinking skills and a political frame. It woke me right up.
I’m at a similar crossroad now since I’m close to finishing my doctoral degree. Graduate school is a process, a negotiation and it’s far from linear. It requires you be resilient, to work hard and be open to always improve. These are lessons and skills that are easily translated into various fields, the issue is that I don’t quite know what that “field” currently will be or what that “job” will look like. There are ideas, concepts and dreams that just need to coalesce into something more solid and less abstract. One of my major faults has been to follow along with societal and familial expectations. Always having been such a “good” girl I’ve never wanted to disappoint. Thankfully as you age Shakespeare’s words about “to thine own self be true” becomes more of a life mantra than a high school English essay. At the end of the day you are only accountable to yourself so what sort of things do you devote your time to? Making yourself miserable for the pay cheque no longer cuts it. As much as I am thankful for all of the opportunities that grad school has offered, I’m also ready to leave. I believe a workplace and a career should surround you with inspiration, should ignite your passion, and it should not be a chore. Am I asking for too much? Every few months the New York Times or Slate will publish an article about my “generation.” We as the Sesame Street cohort has apparently been told all our lives that we’re “special” so we have unrealistic expectations about our present and future, that we are too entitled. In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with working at it till you get it right. Till you are good and satisfied.