Let’s Get Real

I seriously don’t know how I’m going to get through the next few months. I’m so sick of not understanding anything that I do, but at the same time I just don’t give a damn about it either. I’ve spent the last 12 years, since high school, struggling with my studies and generally feeling like an idiot.

I’m going to admit it – I don’t have any special reason why I started studying Astronomy. I didn’t have a telescope when I was 8, nor was I fascinated by NASA missions or anything. Honestly, the reason why I started was because I didn’t get into the music program and thought Astrophysics sounded sufficiently impressive. There. I said it.

Not that I don’t love Astronomy, because I do – but at a basic/public knowledge level, not at a graduate level. At this point, I’m studying some tiny aspect of some small sub-sub-field, and no one cares. It has no bearing on society at all, and it’s of no help to anyone. It is completely unfulfilling.

I’ve thought about dropping out of my PhD time and time again. The first time I seriously contemplated it was October of 2007, and it’s come up every couple of months since then. It’s becoming increasingly common these days though. The one reason I have stayed is that I don’t want to let other people down. I don’t want my family, my husband, my supervisor, my friends, and especially not my colleagues to look down on me for not finishing.

Embarrassment is seriously the only thing that’s kept me going. I realize that’s not what I’m supposed to say – I’m supposed to love what I do, and be so happy that my life is dedicated to something to amazing. But, that’s not the way I feel and I’m done with pretending.

After having another crying fit this afternoon, DH and I talked about it for the upteenth time. This time it was different though, because it was the first time he ever said that he would fully support me if I decided that I needed to drop out. It made me realize how bad it must be if he can see that maybe the positive of getting a piece of paper isn’t worth the misery I’ve been going through.

I don’t know what I’m going to do – at this point dropping out sounds like heaven, but at the same time there is that looming cloud of embarrassment and disappointment. I know that I should just finish – I just can’t come up with any reason why.

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Comments on: "Let’s Get Real" (6)

  1. Oh my gosh, I was EXACTLY where you are as recently as July. EXACTLY. I kept going because of the shame and embarassment. You summed up my feelings exactly. I don’t have any answers for you. I kept going and I kind of like it again and I will probably (?) finish. I hope. But not because I love it or want it to be my life’s work or anything. Simply because I am ready to close the door on that part of my life, you know? I don’t know which way to encourage you, but I am glad you have such a supportive husband. My husband said I could quit and go to nursing school last year this time! I don’t know why I kept going but now I am glad that I did.

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  2. Thanks for the honest post, Becca. I’m getting pretty sick of hearing “if you quit you’ll regret it” or “it’s such an accomplishment to get a PhD” or “if it were me…” any of that BS – so it’s nice to hear something real instead. Those canned comments are exactly why I never could bring myself to quit when I could have – I didn’t want to “regret” things or wonder “what if”…but for the past few years I’ve been wondering if I should have done something else :S

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  3. hey there… well I can’t say that I know exactly how you feel, but believe me, I’ve had some of those thoughts over the last several years. I still think maybe I should go back and do my phd. And I completely flip flop from side to side depending on the day.I find it so frustrating that I think I really would love a teaching position at a university, but feel like my application would be passed up in favour of someone with a phd. So I guess, if you think that teaching is something that you’d like to do, maybe that makes it worth it? But honestly, I don’t know.I do believe that you are capable of it though! But the desire? That’s another thing.So here’s a thought. Can you take a bit of a break? Maybe a week or two or ten 🙂 I don’t know if that would help… but it might either strengthen your resolve to go back for the last push or else decide once and for all that you don’t want to go back…I sympathize with you. Totally. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

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  4. Jen – I think time off might be a good idea. Reading break is coming up in a couple of weeks, so maybe I’ll do that.As for needing a PhD to teach at a university – I don’t think it’d be worth it to do it for *just* that. Unless you could do it in education or something that will help.Granted, I’m a bit biased against doing a PhD for ANY reason at the moment! Haha!

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  5. MCH – I, like Becca, know exactly what you mean. Sheer embarrassment is a powerful motivator. “Quitting after N years? Jeez, that’s pathetic.” And so I kept going. And now I’m glad I did, and I feel so close….so close!!!!!! I can taste it.Plus, I haven’t felt that way in a while, I think because recently I had some pretty significant breakthroughs that allowed me to feel good about what I was doing – but only after MONTHS of banging my head against a wall and wanting to cry all the time. I think that’s just the way it works. If you could just charge through without feeling like shit, it wouldn’t be so hard to get a PhD. Either way, whatever you decide, good luck. The blogosphere supports you! 🙂

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  6. Hey PD – thanks for the post! It’s really nice to know that I’m not the only one feeling like crap ðŸ˜ĶI had a talk with my advisor today and he made me feel much better. I might do a post later on about it.

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