- 7 years ago
- Wedding: July 2011
So I have been trying to keep details of my life and private stuff more off the bee, but I think I’ve complained to my friends and family enough and I still don’t know what to think. They’re all wonderful and supportive, and this is mostly to spare them hearing it again!
I make no secret of the fact that I am in grad school for my PhD. I have full funding, so this costs me nothing but time. My expect to graduate date is 2015. But my school is 1.5 hrs from “home” and while Darling Husband and I had originally been planning to move out there, he really wants to stay and, the big part, hopefully is getting a permanent, full time job around here. We’re waiting to hear on the interviews. I wrote this post in the spring, and when I’m honest with myself, the commute may as well be 2 hrs till I leave, drive what is really about an hour and a half, then walk in from my designated parking area. Four months ago I thought commuting was the solution, but now that I did this through the summer, I don’t like that any more than living out there. I feel disconnected from my program and my peers.
The thing of it is, I don’t love it anyway. I want to teach at the college level. Research is interesting, but it’s not my passion or anything. I do it because I have to. I’m not in it for its own sake; I’m in it because I need a PhD to do what I want to do. And as awful as this is going to sound, my program isn’t even in the concentration I want. It was the closest, admitted me early, and gave me funding, so I took it. I’m a bad grad student.
So I’m sure you can see where this is going. The reason I did it is because that was the only job I thought I wanted. And I knew I’d always wonder “what if” if I didn’t go for it. But now I’ve seen it, and I’m not impressed. I’m not that happy. A lot of things have changed since then just in my life and how I think about myself and my life. First, there is only one university close to “home” and I already know that I do not want to have a huge commute like this for the rest of my life. I know Darling Husband wants to settle here permanently, so I worry that I’ll get this degree and not be able to find a job with it around here, or I’ll end up commuting an hr+ for the rest of my life. Second, I hate living this way. I want to settle down myself. It’s a long, complicated story of putting my self-worth in academics, but my priorities are shifting. I never entertained the “good-enough job.” I also hate how much time — paying down student loans, saving for a house, saving for retirement, etc — we lose every year that I’m not working full time.
But. Of course there’s a “but” or I would have just quit grad school considering all that. I like what I do for the most part. I’m smart and good at school. I am scared of writing my dissertation, but who isn’t at least a little? Also, it’s fairly secure. With funding issues in education, it may not always be so (and I hear incoming cohorts are not going to be fully funded). And it will ultimately get me the job I want (if I can find one), although “the job I want” is not a firmly held concept. I never really knew what I wanted to do, and teaching in a university for me is the best of the options, not really my dream or anything. I don’t have a career dream. I have a life dream — home ownership and a family. And while I know that a PhD is not precluding me from either of those, it sure does feel like it these days. Though I try to tell myself that in the long run for the future it will help me be more successful.
Sometimes I think about applying for jobs, but I don’t know how to get around references. Obviously, it would be hard to explain what I’ve been doing for the last 8 months without mentioning my PhD program. But there is no way I’d want my program to know that I am looking elsewhere for fear that they’ll give my funding to someone more committed. Sometimes I think about doing student teaching. I’d have to pay for one undergrad semester at my “home” school, but I worry that jobs in education are really hard to come by and it’s a really bad time for that right now. I’m scared to quit grad school (with a comfortable paycheck and health insurance) to then not be able to get a job anyway.
See why I’m so confused? My semester starts at the end of the month, and I know that I’ll go to it and it’ll be fine. As I said, I like it enough; it’s just the lifestyle and delaying “real life” that I don’t know about. Is it worth it?