Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wanted: Compass or Really Fancy GPS; Job Description: Give Directions on Where to Go In Life

I really wish it were that easy. I'm so utterly miserable in grad school right now. I never thought I'd say it. The academic burnout--I've got it bad. I just feel like I'm flailing around, and not sure of myself or what I want to do anymore. I'm tired of working a crappy retail job to pay rent and be able to take classes. I'm tired of having 300+ pages of homework every week. I don't want to think about taking the foreign language exam and especially don't want to think about my thesis/culminating project. It could be the fact I'm taking 4 classes and working on two degrees at the same time. Plus I've been in school for 18 1/2 years spanning from Kindergarten all the way to where I am now in the first semester of my second year of grad school. No breaks, just straight through; almost everyday sitting in a class with my butt in a desk, pencil and paper in hand, and 20+ people around me. I've been having to cram so much crap in my head that I don't even care or intend to write about. And then I'm ALWAYS BEHIND, no matter how much I try to catch up. I'm always exhausted, and my social life is pretty much nil. I miss being able to go home whenever the weekend comes. I'm just really lost right now. I'm torn; I have a love for learning and desire to be involved the academy; yet I want to be part of the "real world" with a 9-5 job that has insurance and pays at least $20,000/year; and I want to have time to write. Grad school is killing my soul and crushing my dreams, and it's causing me to rebel hardcore and  almost consider dropping.

I try to pep myself up with inspirational movie scenes and stories and characters from books. Whenever I feel down and out, one of the books I never fail to pull out is: Alanna: The First Adventure. For those of you unfamiliar with the text, it's a story (rather series) about a girl who wants to and eventually becomes a knight. I was rereading Alanna for about the millionth time, and a scene really resonated with me. It's when she starts to fall behind in her classes and chores.

"Face it," Gary told her kindly. "You'll never catch up. You just do as much as you can and take the punishments without saying anything. Sometimes I wonder if that isn't what they're really trying to teach us--to take plenty and keep our mouths shut.
Alanna after this conversation goes back to her room and orders Coram to pack for home.

"I never figured ye for a quitter," Coram interupted softly.

"I'm not quitting!" Alanna snapped. "I--I'm protesting! I'm protesting unfair treatment--and--being worked till I drop. I want to have time to myself. I want to learn to fight with a sword
now, not when they decide. I want--"

"Ye want. Ye want. 'Tis something different ye're learning here. It's called 'discipline.' The world won't always order itself the way
ye want. Ye have to learn discipline."

In the end, Alanna of course decides to stay, and she eventually becomes a knight by the end of the series. Yay, role models and inspiration! I say grad school is a worthy analogy to knighthood--though lacking the physical fighting; it's made up for by all the intellectual arguing you have to do; both are pretty brutal.

I mentioned also, I like somewhat cheesy, inspirational, follow your dreams films that surprise me and defy my expectations. For example, Brave New Girl; yes, it's an ABC movie directed/produced by Britney Spears; something so fun and reaffirms your faith in your decision to follow your dreams and be happy. ;) I love the scene where the main character performs Habanera from Carmen, and then does her own twist on it.

Last thing to make me feel better is always the wonderful Idina Menzel. I think "Brave" is a song that really defines my life right now--state of transition, constant changes, and somewhat scary grown up things. I'm gonna face it all and make it through grad school!

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