I recently wrote to someone (well actually to Brad when I needed to say my final parting words to him):
“So thank you Brad for everything. Even if you didn’t know that you were [changing my life for the better]. But i guess that’s the great thing about life… You never know when or how you will effect someone’s life for the better 🙂.”
I didn’t think that soon those exact same words would apply to me.
I received this message from a former colleague from where I got my MA. I don’t know her very well… at the most I can say we probably have talked to each other on two other occasions… she was very much my senior in academia to my wide-eyed and awed-at-all-above-me MA student:
Brooke – I know we don’t know each other well; hardly at all. And I know you’ve been having as hard and confusing a year as I have. I wanted to let you know that you inspired me to have the courage to do what I had to do – leave the-school-I-got-my-MA-at-and-she-was-getting-her-PhD All But Dissertation after 8 years.
I had written a pretty lengthy note on facebook to all of my friends about my choice to leave academia and since most of our mutual friends commented on it she must have seen it.
My turmoil and hardships helped someone else through their own turmoil and hardships.
I guess that is the point of why I set up this blog. So I could also help other fellow OCD suffers or academics… but I always knew that if I did help someone it would probably be without my knowledge.
But the fact that someone I know and admire has told me that I inspired them!!! It means so much in the world!! To know that my suffering was not in vain and that I was able to help someone else… someone much more amazing than me!!!
Never did I think when I was writing my long explanation to my friends (I never posted it on here… but I will post it below… with of course a few personal things (like the name of universities and where i live) edited out) that it would help one of them. I just thought I needed to explain myself about why I was leaving something all of them supported me so much in.
So I guess what I said to Brad was true: You never know when or how you will affect someone’s life for the better 🙂
So now that it is really happening, all my past professors,colleagues, fellow cohort members, family and friends who have supported me throughout the years to reach my dreams and to be the best that I could possibly be deserve an explanation.
For those who have only seen tidbits on Facebook and have asked questions that I have avoided answering, I hope to answer your questions now.
I am officially leaving Academia (well technically I’m taking a leave of absence so I can come back if I realize that it is the worse decision of my life lol). This is not a decision that I have come to lightly. It is something that I’ve been really struggling with since my last year at where I got my MA and this past year where I was getting my PhD. I’m not even sure where to begin explaining why I have needed to come to this decision.
As we all know I have been pursuing this field of social science since I was a wide eye freshman at my undergrad institution. It was something I was highly interested in since the third grade, and because of the amazing professors I had at my undergrad institution my passion for it bloomed. I was given amazing opportunities by wonderful professors who saw my want to learn as much as I could. I then go on and list the plethora of amazing opportunities I’ve been involved in.
And somehow I did this all in the three years and with a 4.0 GPA! I could not have done it without the amazing mentorship that I had and the amazing support of friends that were always around me. I know I was crazy and stressed a lot of the time, because I was on a trajectory. And I annoyed many of you with my “Omg I’m going to fail!!!” lol. I had a plan though. I KNEW that I was going to be a professor of this social science. I knew I had to get my MA and PhD and then be on my way to a tenured track position. Never in my mind did I think to deviate from this plan (well except at those 3:30am moments where I realized I wouldn’t be sleeping at all that night to get a project done… but then getting the A the next week would make me forget those moments lol).
And then I went to my MA institution and met some of the most amazing people in the whole world. The friends that I met there became more like family. We were always there supporting each other through the 1,000 page readings every week and the enormous amount of papers that had to be done. I met life long friends there that I will never lose touch with. I had amazing mentorship by two amazing professors and my passion for this particular field of social science continued to grow.
The summer of 2011 though changed my life. I know it sounds dramatic, but it did. I wish I could go into the details, but unfortunately that is not something I can go into detail for the whole entire world on Facebook. [for blog people– this is when my OCD become so severe that I could no longer handle it].
I came back to my grad institution after that summer lost, confused,and unsure of where to go with my life. I knew my plan though… so I kept with it. I continued with my plan to apply for NSF (which I totally didn’t get… but my essays were flawless!), PhD programs, and to try to do the best I could in classes (though at this point it was really difficult).
I was a ghost of the girl that I once was. Life was passing without me really participating at all. I could see the disappointment in my professors’ eyes not understanding the 180 degree turn that I took, and I could see the confusion of my friends who didn’t even know how to approach me.
After a while though with the strength of my family and close friends (who I finally let in… and I am so glad that I did), I began the fight to get myself back. I like to think that I succeed at this fight that I am back to the person that I was. But the truth is… I will never be that person again. I am forever changed. I love the person who I am now, but I do ardently miss who I once was.
But this event, this change, revolutionized my whole out look on life. I can’t go back to pretending that it didn’t happen. I see the world differently now.
I’ve always been extremely passionate about volunteer work and helping those in need (after all I did over 300 hours of community service in undergrad!), but this passion was always put on the back burner for academia. No more though.
I loved academia for the gaining of knowledge. The ability to discover something no one else has. To argue about a point that really had absolutely no effect on society and sound smart doing it! To be able to empower people through the gaining of knowledge.
It was at this last point though that my true passion lay. I wanted to empower people. The empowerment of people through this particular field though…is really only a side effect of what we do. The past two years I’ve discovered how esoteric the field is and the many aspects of academia is. With my new outlook on life though… I can’t sit idly by pouring over esoteric articles. There are people out in the world who are in pain, who don’t see any light in the dark, who haven’t experienced kindness or love. I can’t with my new consciousness not do anything about it and worry more so about getting an A on a paper so that my professors keep thinking that I am smart or fighting with hundreds of other people to get that one grant that I probably won’t get anyway.
That isn’t what I want anymore…
And I can’t express to you how sad that makes me. I almost completely lost myself Summer/Fall 2011… but the one thing I held onto was my plan… my plan to continue my life in academia… now that I’m giving that final piece up, I’m finally completely saying goodbye to the girl I was. This past year at the institution I was pursuing my PhD I tried to get that girl back. I tried my hardest. That is why I came here. To see if I could get that passion back… but I haven’t been happy in what I do at all. I’m just constantly stressed (which causes unhealthy stress eating and sleep patterns lol), unmotivated, not passionate, and not happy. If I was supposed to be the girl I once was… you would think I would be happy… but I’m not at all…
Until now… I can’t express to you how excited I am about my future. I don’t have a concrete plan, but everything in the world is open to me.
I am about to start my new job (yes the one you’ve seen me posting about) here in the city…the moment that I walked into the office I just knew I fit in. There was something about it that made me feel welcomed and wanted. And I felt that my abilities would be put to good use there. And they seemed to feel the connection too since they offered me the job about 20 minutes after I left the second interview I had with them that day.
As of right now, my plan is to work in the real world for a while and then perhaps go back to school but for a MA in Social Work. As I said I’ve always been passionate about helping people and this passion has done nothing but grow over the past two years. I really am interested in working with the homeless population of my city… I feel like I could do a lot of good there.
I don’t care if my name is remembered or if any of my actions are known by the world… I just want to help people turn their lives around…to feel loved… to feel wanted and a part of society… I just want to help people who are struggling in any and every possible way that I can.
I have met some absolutely amazing people here in this city. I’ve been slow to fit in here, but I’m finally finding my place, and I’m so excited to continue my life journey with the current people surrounding me. So it appears that here in this city I stay… for a least a while.
I’m not going to deny that I am scared. I’m terrified. Terrified that I didn’t give myself enough time at the institution I was trying to receive my PhD from, terrified that I’m not going to be happy or succeed anywhere, terrified that I won’t ever find the place that I belong. But knowing that I have all of these amazing people around me, whether they are in this city or far away, makes me feel so incredibly safe. I know that with them, my family, and God I will be able to continue on to this new chapter in my life with my head raised high.
So anyway… I just want to thank everyone who has been there for me. Everyone who has pushed me to succeed, to reach my dreams, and to just be there for me. Especially those individuals who I forced to read various drafts of various papers multiple times… and those who I constantly told I was going to fail and who kept reassuring me that that isn’t something I can physically do lol. And I want to thank those amazing mentors who provided me with so many amazing opportunities and did so much for me to succeed. I love you all and thank you for everything! You mean so much to me and I am soooo incredibly appreciative that you are in my life!