Friday, May 9, 2008

Why I'm giving grad school the boot

It's been a while since we've had a good old-fashioned rant around here. And I'm feeling ranty. You know what I'm sick of, Internet?

I'm sick of my time not being my own. I'm sick of working constantly, days, evenings and weekends, seven days a week for eight or nine months out of the year.

I'm sick of people saying, "Oh, but you have summers off." I don't have summers off, because I don't get paid during the summer. So I have to go straight from end-of-semester, exam-taking, exam-grading, and term paper-writing hell, to cover letter-writing, resume-sending, job search-if-I-want-to-pay-my-rent-next-month hell, with not even a moment to take a deep breath in between. I'm sick of spending my summers working menial, low-paying, meaningless jobs. I'm sick of the all-or-nothing of brain overload during the school year versus the brain drought of working mindless monkey jobs during the summer.

I'm sick of trying to balance my teaching with my own studies, and feeling like I'm failing both my students and myself. I'm sick of the constant, never-ending stress. I'm sick of feeling like no matter how much I do, it's never enough.

I'm sick of being forced to devote myself to topics that are of no interest to me, while not being allowed the opportunity to pursue interests of my own, or the opportunity to find out if I even have interests of my own.

Grad school, you have taken away two years of my life and forced me to live in near-poverty. You have made me doubt myself, constantly wondering if I'm good enough, and you have contributed to the demise of a three year relationship. But you will not take anything more from me, grad school. For all these reasons and so many more, grad school, I'm quitting you. There's a whole wide world out there, and I want to explore it.

So long, grad school. It's been real, but for now, I choose myself, I choose my future, I choose travel, I choose France. I choose long walks and chocolate croissants and language barriers. I choose jet lag and lost luggage and and being all alone in a big city. I choose warm sunshine and cold drizzle, cobblestones and soft grass, Côte du Rhone and Stella Artois. I choose scandalous exchange rates, long train rides, and living out of a backpack, I choose buying baguettes that will never make it home with the end intact. I choose myself, I choose my future. I choose life.


  1. I'm sick of being forced to devote myself to topics that are of no interest to me, while not being allowed the opportunity to pursue interests of my own, or the opportunity to find out if I even have interests of my own.

    Ain't no more fun out here, but the pay is better.

    Of course you can always marry a rich millionaire. :)

  2. I personally loved grad school but I only had one year of it. 12 full months and the debt to prove it. But one of the most rewarding experiences ever.

    What you should have done was work in the rat race, busting your ass at menial underpaying jobs to move up for a decade and then have gone back to grad school. The real world sucks just as much. Hell, even post-grad school, I'm shoveling shit sometimes.

    Enjoy it while you can because real life can be as big a biatch.

  3. how much longer do you have at grad school if you were going to stay?

  4. Wow! Big life decisions.

    You only live life once so you've got to make the best of it.

    I often wish that I could go back in time and take a path different from the one I took. "If I knew then what I know now" type of thing...

    Anyway, take some time and think it all through, where all the paths will likely lead and how rocky they will be on the way. And, above all else, be good to yourself. And happy.

  5. Five years! You were in a Ph.D.program? Your descriptions sounded more like a two-year M.A. gig. I thought you were graduating this month. Well, there's always time to finish ... one day.

  6. Yes yes, I was in an MA program, got my MA and made the decision to cut the cord now rather than continue on for the PhD. (Most people do continue on, though, which is perhaps why I feel the need to justify myself).

  7. Well done! You've got huevos and a Master's, which is more than most of us. Rock on!

  8. Don't be silly. There's no need to justify yourself to anyone. You've got a lot going for you and years to do it in.

  9. i am totally going to cut out that last paragraph and put it on my bathroom mirror. (that and a paragraph from janes blog where a bird poops.) i am so proud of you and since when is getting your masters quitting?? you went away from home, you grew, you accomplished and now, um, you are OFF TO FRANCE! i tell my kids about you as an inspiration. so put that in your pocket. (though honestly, you could have quit accomplishing anything after the comment card incident of 97? 98? i still would have had mad respect for you :p) rach, one day you will see yourself the way others do and it will totally blow your mind.

  10. i should have had the balls to quit a year or two ago, but now that i've only got a year or so left to get my phd (a 300-page thesis, crushing of my self-esteem, life-shattering stress, and having to live 3500 miles away from my girlfriend included), i guess i'll stick it out... enjoy your freedom!

  11. this post gave me the chills...I'm so excited for you!!! you won't regret it, and if you do, at least you'll have some wonderful memories to distract you.