Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Beauty School Dropout
Well, no. Not really. Not at all, actually. I just have that song from Grease stuck in my head because today I officially dropped out of the Ph.D. program. My contract isn't up until the end of August, but I had a meeting with my committee today to discuss my progress and future goals and I told them that I would not be coming back in the fall.
It was a really difficult decision. I thought about it for a very long time. During my second semester, I took a leave of absence because I was already having second thoughts about the path I was on. See, after I got my Master of Science degree I switched specialties. I was still in the same general field, but it was more or less an entirely different topic. It seemed like a good idea in terms of gaining new experience and being qualified for a wider range of jobs, but I just could not get interested in my work. Sometimes I'd be working in the lab or having a meeting with my advisor and I'd think "This is not my life. This is not really happening.". I could hear myself having conversations about my research but I'd still be thinking "What the fuck am I talking about and WHY?". It's been kind of a mess.
Even though I've known that I was really unhappy and entirely unmotivated to do this kind of work, it was still difficult to give up. I felt like a failure. I felt like a quitter. I worried that I would regret it and be ashamed of myself some day. I was afraid people would think that I didn't finish the degree because I wasn't smart enough or because I was lazy. Then I realized - I don't give a shit about what about other people think. I mean, I want people to think I'm a good person, but beyond that I don't care what they think of me. Especially not people who would look down on me for making this choice.
Today, I'm proud of myself. And relived - gosh, I am so relieved to be done with this! I have no idea what I'm going to do now (and it was obvious that some people thought I was crazy for that) and I have no idea if I'm going to be happier, but at least I took a chance. I feel very lucky to have the option to move on and try something else. Not everyone has the choice to do whatever they want and I don't take that for granted. So maybe I have to start all over. Maybe I'm nowhere near having that sweet job I always hoped for. But I think I'm finally headed in the right direction. Maybe the only way to move forward is to first go back the way I came.