Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why is it so hard to know what you actually want?

What a whirlwind of a few weeks!

Making decisions is hard. I had the worst time and range of emotions throughout my decision on whether or not to go for my Ph.D., and, if I decided to, when to begin the process. I found it really hard to actually KNOW what it was I wanted. It was exciting to think about (I mean, getting a doctorate is a huge honor and accomplishment), but when it came down to it, was I ready? The whole process was accelerated and unexpected as I went from going to an information session in June (just to get some ideas!) to being offered a tentative spot a few weeks later, to applying right when I got back from Greece, to hearing nothing for weeks, and then finally getting an official acceptance just a week before class began, which I then had to ruminate over and ended up accepting the day before orientation. WHEW!

Many questions were going through my head to make a final decision. Did I want to keep living as I was for the next year and then go back to school? Did I want to stay in my same career forever? Did I want to work in high school or college? How did I want to use my finances? Did I want to get involved with something outside of work? Did I want to keep working side jobs for extra money as a way to spend my time? Was dating going to lead to my happiness or was it going to be something else within myself (I know, I know, stupid question, but keep in mind I am 28)? Could I stick with this decision for the next 4-5 years?

My thoughts on all this changed daily, and it resulted in a few weeks of me being in a "funk" and having a hard time. In life you make so many decisions; some big and some small; some with a lot of information to process and others with none; and you grow and learn from the good and bad in those decisions. This felt like a big decision, because I knew it would change me. I would become a different person professionally and personally from this journey. It would change my whole life and some of my priorities (good-bye traveling budget to pay for school!). Was I ready?

The answer came down to a very simple question: Would I be completely happy doing as I have been doing for the last few months for the next year or so? Was my job and extracurriculars and travels going to be enough? I decided it wasn't. As much a I live for traveling, I knew that waiting every few months for a big trip was not going to result in me being my best self, no matter how fun those trips are. I wanted to challenge myself again, do better work in my own job, and really put myself to the test of accomplishing a goal that has been in the back of my mind since I was in graduate school. I needed to do this for myself and my mind, or at least try to do it.

When it comes down to it- I LOVE school. I always have. I had a really hard time adjusting to the working world after graduate school, because it felt like a huge part of me was missing. It took me a while to figure out what it was that I needed to do to bring out a different side of myself in place of that aspect. I have always missed it, so I am very excited (and overwhelmed) with the possibility of being able to hopefully permanently be in a "school" position. My goal with this Ph.D. is to teach, advise and research, and that to me is very, very, very exciting. I will have the options to combine traveling with education and hopefully move somewhere when I am done to start a new life. Luckily, I can do this program part-time (2 classes per semester), and should be done with the classes in 3 years before I begin writing my dissertation.

Here's to the next 4-5 years of  "fun!"
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