August 15, 2009

Another friend drops out

[Sorry if this is disappointing to my new feminist friends, but this is mainly a blog about graduate school.]

Last I found out that one of my friends is dropping out of the program. I didn't know her well, but I know she is smart, and a very hard worker. She was always prepared for seminar -- when nobody else had done the reading, she had done the reading. But she was feeling a lot of anxiety over her dissertation.

One thing about grad school, you don't realize how much your classmates are struggling. Even people who seem talented and confident go through hard times.

I think one of the reasons I have survived this long is that even though I get stressed out and frustrated, I don't lie awake feeling anxious that my work isn't good enough. My problems have been dealing with the enormous workload, and a bad situation with my former advisor. Now that I'm in a better situation, I don't feel anxious at all. I know that my dissertation will be good, and if it's not good enough for an academic job, then I'll just do something else.

Anyway, I hope my friend is okay -- she secretly didn't want to be a professor, so maybe she can get the job she always wanted without spending years on a dissertation.

But it's sad that subfield seems to shrink every year -- now we don't have any 5th years left.


  • Aww... I'm so sorry she felt she had to go that route, even though I'm sure she's doing what she must to take care of herself. So true how we don't always know what the pressure is doing to people. Yesterday I was in a didactic on suicidality and when discussing risk factors for suicide one intern brought up graduate school. We invest so much time and money and there is so much pride and ego involved too, that our perspectives can get seriously distorted.

    I remember when you were talking about dropping out, and I know I've certainly had my share of thoughts like that. My cohort has shrunk my more than half at this point. I'm so glad you stayed in and that you're happy now! It's kinda lonely at the top though, isn't it?

    By Blogger Mamabeek, at 8/15/09, 12:45 PM  

  • Yeah, it is lonely when your classmates leave. I think I was drawn to be friends with people who were not obsessed with status and achievement -- people who were more likely to decide that academia isn't for them. Fortunately one of my best friends, who dropped out, stayed in the city.

    By Blogger Di Di, at 8/15/09, 1:09 PM  

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