If you had asked me anytime in my first semester of my MA about doing a PhD, I would have laughed in your face because, to be honest, I hated everything about graduate school. But sometime in the second semester, I stopped hating it. Midway through the third semester, I realized I really liked it. Thus begins the slippery slope of academia.
In one sense, this was a decision that I fell into, propelled by the ease of continuing a program in a place where I am comfortable and happy, and the stability of having another meaningful element of our unpredictable time here in DC. But in another sense, this decision has been one fraught with anxiety and second guessing myself. Do I really want to spend four more year in school? Am I actually able to write a dissertation? Is it worth it if I ultimately decide that I just want to teach high school again?
Even more difficult than those questions about the program itself, where the questions about what this commitment does to the rest of our lives. Frankly, we can’t have it all. This is the real world. Our 20’s are a narrow window and the choices we make here resonate later in life. I see more and more of my friends on Facebook announcing that they are having a baby, or another one, and I wonder, am I making a decision that will later affect my desire to have a big family? I see friends buying houses and ask myself if four more years of me making only a stipend will cripple our chances of long-term savings or house ownership. I see things I want to get involved in at church and in the community that are precluded by evening classes and term papers. I choose this fig and then stress about the ones that are falling around me.
So what do I do? I lie on the couch and cry about my currently non-existent future children going to college far away and leaving me and life passing so quickly while I try to make it stop. Because that’s logical.
But sometimes all you can do is just take the next step, the one that makes the most sense at the moment, even if it is an intimidating, work-leaden, you-might-dread-this-later step. Because at the same time, it is an exciting and exhilarating step of which I am really proud. I guess all that other stuff will just have to wait. Is this “the right decision”? Who knows. But then again, is there really even just one right decision for most choices in life?
What do you think? Do you worry that the decisions you are making now will limit other things later? Or am I the only crazy out there…