May 11, 2011

I'm gonna get out of here someday

When I talked to my parents last weekend, I told them that I had a dissertation interview that went very well. Today, my sister told me that my mom told her that I had a job interview that went very well. My parents will be sad when they learn that I'm not actually about to get a real job.

Lately, I really can't stand being asked "so when will you be done?" I've always hated the question, but these days it really pushes a button, to the point where I want to explode on the people who ask me. I think it's because I can sense that people feel like I have been in grad school forever, and they think it's long past time to graduate. They want me to say "I'm graduating this June, starting a great job in July" because anything else sounds absurd after "all this time." And the real answer, that I'm uncertain because I don't know how my research will go or how my first try on the job market will go, makes me sound like I don't know what I'm doing and don't have it together.

I don't feel this way when I talk to people who actually understand Ph.D. programs. I'm happy to talk with my grad student friends, or friends who have experience with grad students, about how I'm doing and when I might be done. I just hate getting questioned by people who don't understand that 5+ years is normal, and the job market is horrible, so I don't have any simple answers about my timeline or my future.

I should patiently explain what I'm doing and where I am, but I don't want to do that either because it just makes me feel anxious about everything. And because I can sense that even when I try to explain, people don't really get it. I think they suspect I'm just making excuses, because surely 5 years is long enough, and surely after getting this prestigious degree, I will be guaranteed a good job. So I give these terse, perfunctory answers and try to change the subject.

. . .

In other news, I had a good meeting with my advisor today. He seems to like the work that I have done so far, and we talked about a timeline for the next couple of months. I don't meet with my advisor very often -- months regularly go by between meetings -- but when I do, I always leave feeling better. When I'm just working on research by myself at my apartment, it's easy to feel disconnected from my program and my purpose. Meeting with my advisor is reassuring because it reminds me that the work is going somewhere, and that I am being supervised. Infrequently, but still. My committee members would tell me if I were on the wrong track, if I were wasting my time. So I leave my advisor's office feeling grounded and motivated.

I also bought three pairs of summer shoes today, at excellent (very cheap) prices. They are so, so cute. I have abnormally wide feet, and so shopping for regular shoes is painful and depressing -- nothing fits. But I can always find sandals and flip flops that don't constrict my toes. I am not going to wear socks until September, except with my gym shoes and soccer shoes.

So I was walking home with my shoes, in a great mood, until some guy leaned out of his pick-up truck and said "hey cutie blah blah blah blah I'm a douchebag." THANKS. Thanks for interrupting my shoephoria to say that to me.

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