I have an angry blog post sitting in my drafts. I started it about 6 weeks after my advisor suggested I “seriously consider quitting the program.” I won’t get into the details, but suffice it to say I told her I’ve totally thought about quitting before. What I’ll add now is that I think about quitting every quarter, around the time midterms hit. But I wouldn’t quit over that, those comments from my advisor, or the disagreement about a class that lead up to those comments.
This week, my prospective chair announced that he is leaving the university to go to the superawesome Harvard Graduate School of Education. At first I was upset. I’m admittedly still VERY disappointed [insert list of awesome things about our academic connection], but I think he’ll flourish where he’s headed & that’s all I ever want for anybody. (Harvard GSE almost made it to my application list, but Boston. No shade. Okay, shade. But I digress.)
Later that same day, I found out I was rejected for a research fellowship that would’ve connected me to some amazing mentoring and a research experience almost exactly in line with the work I’m planning to do. If I hadn’t been in a room full of people (class had just ended), I would’ve burst into tears.
I think these two things were a necessary push for me:
— one name, 2 words (@AmandaMichelle) May 3, 2013
I don’t have any answers, okay no, I DO have answers. I just need to pay closer attention. As I said on my surgery fundraiser bio (please donate!), my ultimate
dream goal is to help homeless youth produce documentaries that will lead to systemic changes that will improve their lives. I don’t need a PhD to make documentaries, but I do need a PhD to participate in the academic research community. Put a pen right there; we’ll be coming back to that thought.
Today I got the chance to talk to the one person I’ve known my entire adult life who isn’t family or a former classmate. We keep in touch, but sometimes life gets in the way of us being able to have a traditional conversation. The Universe saw fit to make that happen today & as usual, Stef let herself be a vessel.
there is a reason i call @stefrenee ‘mama stef’. she be knowin’.
— one name, 2 words (@AmandaMichelle) May 4, 2013
While talking to Stef, I realized something major: I’ve been wrestling with what my journey should look like, but I think I need to give it a rest.
yeah… i’m behind on research, but i think i need to spend this summer taking some ‘time off’ to refocus my personal & professional lives. — one name, 2 words (@AmandaMichelle) May 4, 2013
Stef pretty much repeated what I’d realized last night: If I’m gonna do this thing, I’ve got to take more responsibility for making my vision a reality. A few minutes later, she also told me:
So about that thought on participating in the academic community.what I want to do makes logical sense. I think I’ve just been going about it all wrong.
I really latched onto the idea that it’s up to the student to make the PhD happen, but completely let go of the fact that grad school is a means to an end. While I do need to be setting myself up for the next step, I need to take a moment to reconnect with The Source & make sure I’m clear on what that ‘next step’ is. I also need to be open to [insert more things that Mama Stef & I talked about but I won't post... for reasons.]
Logistically, I’m behind on almost everything except my coursework.
- I should have had at least one research assistantship completed by the end of this year, but stats happened. I wanted to start back up Spring Quarter, but my advisor put everything on hold until summer. I’m actually kinda glad for that; I’m getting the opportunity to think about what I want my future research to be. This means I will be more informed while selecting my second RAship.
- I have a year to assemble a dissertation committee. That may sound like a lot of time to some folks, but relationship building takes a lot of time.
- I haven’t published anything. At all. This would be due to me not having any research to publish. (Okay, also because I’m afraid to put my thought paper out there before I can find a trusted mentor & have him/her look it over & help me rework it.)
Of course, I’m now reminded of the things I have done:
- I’m the only person in my cohort with any TA experience. Although it doesn’t count toward any requirements (and no, it doesn’t pay. See the last sentence of this bullet), it doesn’t put me behind. Having the experience does mean I may actually be in a better space for my required TAships. Or possibly a secret thing I can’t talk about yet. And also the cursory CV builder.
- I’ve been needling at my dissertation proposal since I was first accepted into school. By the time this school year is out, I’ll have a few pages of something I can really flush out.
- That whole academic identity crisis where students learn stuff that makes them doubt ALL their research ideas? Yeah, been there, done that. I’ve come full circle & moved on down the path, with regards to what I’m doing & what I hope to accomplish with it. Elevator speech & all. Yes, I’m aware that this smacks of resolution to the above conflict, as presented. I need the answer to “Why this way?” For me.
So anyway, I’ve rambled. I’m not even gonna go back through & see what I wrote because I think I needed to have these
moments hours. As I realized the other day:
just had a realization: i’m in the midst of my 2nd yr of a 3-yr LEARNING & TRAINING program. i’m not expected to be great yet. #phdchat
— one name, 2 words (@AmandaMichelle) May 2, 2013
And that three years is only with regards to coursework. I still have another 2 years of funding left to sort out the rest. And by that time, I’ll also have research funding to actually make things happen. This summer, I’m going to give myself the gift of a break. I’m having surgery soon & need to heal anyway, so all I’m planning to do is work, start my second field placement, enjoy the weather, and spend some time figuring out all the stuff I just rambled about. Even that’s still a lot, but at least there will be a little rest. The thing I need most right now is rest.
— Husni Houssami (@Husni_Houssami6) May 4, 2013