Friday, February 02, 2007

Comparison

Although I've been busy organizing and cleaning I haven't quit thinking about the sudden end to my life-long dream to be a history professor. A friend of mine who is currently going through a divorce compared marriage to graduate school. I started thinking about this and I think she may be right.

They both begin amidst hope and love. I know grad school will be hard, but I love history and I will work harder than anyone else for this. This is what I've always wanted and I'm willing to be poor for this. It will pay off in the end.

The first year is the hardest, as the reality of the situation kicks in. This is so hard. No one told me I would have to concentrate on school 24/7 and give up all my friends and socializing and my hobbies and just basically who I am. And I can't believe how expensive this is. How am I going to pay for all this? I want to quit.

But then, after surviving the first year, you realize, I can do this. I made it. I still love history. Yes, it's hard, but I'm going to learn to balance my life more and figure this out.

By the third and fourth year, you've just become a cynical, lonely, bitter person who doesn't want to give up because you've put so much time into it. You've worked so hard. And you know you loved history at one point in time. And do you really want to start over with something else anyway.

And then, someone else makes the choice for you. And it's over. And you beat yourself up. I should have tried more. I should have worked on my Russian language more. I should have spent more time in my advisor's office figuring this out. I should have figured out how to be more articulate.

Then you move to the anger stage. My advisor should have helped more. She wasn't very supportive and I don't think she even cared about me. The other professors should have done something about this situation.

Then you begin to notice certain things. The headaches are gone. You're sleeping better. You're excited to wake up in the morning because you don't know what you're going to do. You don't cry at the drop of a hat.

There's always fear mingled with all of these. What am I going to do? How do I figure that out? What if I'm not good at that either? What if I never figure out what I'm supposed to do? What it I'm not good at anything else at all?

Then finally acceptance. That when you put all your women's history books up for sale at half.com. I didn't like them the first or second, or even third time, I'm not going to like them again.

It's a difficult process. I wouldn't ever want to go through it again (divorce or leaving graduate school. I've done them both). I still don't know what I'm going to do, although I'm starting to get a clue. I'm going to do some more personal research before I say anything. It will be years before I can actually fully act on it. I'll have to go to school again and probably I'll have to start from scratch with a bachelor's. But I'm excited. And I'm thankful. I'm thankful for my husband, who is the most wonderful, caring man. He's letting me figure this out without pressuring me to move into a high-paying field just for the money. I'm thankful for my parents and family, who lovingly supported me throughout the entire time I was in school, and now that I've left, they haven't made me feel like a failure or that it was a waste of time. I'm thankful for my friends. They always encouraged me when I was in school, believed I could have finished my dissertation and they're still supportive of what I do now. Overall, this process has been a positive growing experience. I'm not quite thankful for the whole thing yet, but maybe someday I'll get there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go read for fun!

2 comments:

Beth said...

As usual, what an insightful analysis from Stacy!! Your description (like of the not wanting to give up because you've put so much time in, and the anger, and the noticing certain things are better once you start to accept) totally resonated with my experience of divorce. And some of it - fear and anger right now - resonated with my inability to get a job right now! Anyhoo, that was a pretty long comment just to say 'thanks for sharing that Stacy' and 'I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better every day and getting excited about the possibilities for the future!"

Tiffany said...

Regardless of the situation Stacy, I know in my heart that you would have made a great academic and that you still will. Beyond that, you'll be great at anything you put an effort into acheiving. You are intelligent, smart, caring and just geninuely nice. Your analysis of grad school completely resonates with me as I contemplate my future and deal with the semi-bitter process of MA writing with my advisor (who tells me one thing and changes her mind the next,especially after I incorporated all that she requested.) Thank you for being you and for still inspiring me.