(Or, “Why I Identify with Ryan the Temp”)
A weird thing’s happened since I’ve decided to leave: I find it easier to talk to faculty.
Let me backtrack and–at the risk of sounding like I’m bragging about basic people skills–say that I’m pretty fine with most social interactions. And yet I’ve had my fair share of shyness with professors. Not all professors, or all the time, but it’s definitely more self-consciousness than I’ve had with bosses or coworkers elsewhere.
And that’s the rub. I think this new confidence shows two things: (1) part of why I was shy is that I always dreaded the “how’s the research?” question, because deep down I didn’t want to do freaking academic research anymore; and (2) faculty and graduate students are not coworkers, which I’ve always known, and I’m sick of it, which is new.
Yesterday, I told my dissertation chair that I was going to leave the program.
I was completely stressed out about having this conversation (which is probably why it took me over two months to work up the courage). My chair is…hard to get a read on. Some people describe him as a teddy bear, albeit one who has an occasionally gruff, wildly intimidating, very British exterior. He’s incredibly well-established and an authoritative voice in the field, and he also wore a Hawaiian shirt to my prelim, which I appreciated.
He was not a person I wanted to disappoint, but I knew it was time to come clean. (And then I still dragged my feet for a few days…)
Wow, it has been a long time since I updated this blog! My “about” page said I was a third year who’d passed her prelims; I’m now a very ABD fifth year, still working on the eighteenth century and Romanticism.
And I’m planning to take the master’s degree and leave this year. [P.S. If you know me from the department, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t share this news with other people in the department. Thanks.]
It’s a decision that’s been a long time coming without my realizing it. (See my last post, for example.) I met with a faculty member recently to get his advice, and when he asked me if something had happened, I said, “I still love teaching. I still like my project, although I’ll do pretty much any other work to avoid actually writing it.”
He thought that was HILARIOUS. He laughed uproariously.
This quarter is kicking my butt! I’m teaching, and trying to get an accelerated summer syllabus together; taking both a theory seminar and a pedagogy class; trying to knock out an incomplete paper from last fall; and, the most important and hardest and most terrifying of all, trying to get my prospectus and dissertation committee together. I’m glad to be moving into dissertation territory, don’t get me wrong, but…
Look, I know it’s not like I have it worse than anyone else. But it’s like, okay. When I go talk to faculty, I know how ridiculous I am.
(Speaking of Chris Traeger, did I mention I’m trying to make it to the gym?)
And whenever anyone asks me about anything related to the project, I’m all: