In terms of how hopeful I am for my near future, I lump myself in with people who just learned their favorite books are being made into a movie and cows born on Mcdonald’s-owned farms. I have 28 days left of my Masters program. But, despite how dour I naturally am, I’ve been feeling strangely hopeful because, after years of school, years of doing horrible things to my body in the name of grades and the approval of my teachers and the sense of validation I craved because I rarely had anything else to feel valuable over, I realize I cannot go any lower. I’ve hit the bottom, and it’s actually quite nice down here.
I used to ask why of a lot of my assignments. Why do I have to read this 50 page article about a teaching practice we don’t think is useful anymore? Why do I have to label my captions for pictures with a colon instead of using a comma to denote an appositive, a method that works just as well but is not “the way it’s done.” Why do I have to suffer in this exact way to produce something almost exactly like what has been produced before when the entire point of my degree is to examine how things have been done before in order to do it better. That’s like surviving a car accident and saying “Well, I better try that again to see if it goes better the second time.” But I don’t ask that kind of thing anymore. Looking at the work I have to do and the “well, ok” attitude I’ve got about doing it, I can honestly say my spirit has been quite effectively broken. There’s a comfort to not having any will left to fight. I just do what they tell me, take the grades given, and move on. I don’t think about consequences or value or what there is to be gained. I just do the work.
I don’t ask why anymore. I don’t really think of how what I do can be useful in the future. I don’t really care about anything beyond being done. I’m just tired.
I think the only comparison I can make between this Masters program is to the feeling I had when I walked to a trail which took me to a mountain, which I also walked up, but then I had to walk down, but once I got to the bottom I had to walk back home, and all this was done with just a little bottle of water and no can-do attitude within 60 miles. The only difference between my mountain and my school is that, to be a really accurate depiction, someone else would have had to accompany me on my hike. This person would be much healthier than me, much more capable, much better equipped, and they’d have conquered this mountain a few hundred times. And also the entire time I would be hiking, they would be prodding me with a barbed spear and telling me I really should be doing more. Why am I not constantly applying to other mountains while climbing this one? Shouldn’t I also be updating my ClimbedIn profile to build an online climbing presence? And why did I not do the next leg of the trail a week in advance?
The entire time I’d be climbing, I would also be hoping this person would just stop, just let me get the work done, and let me find my own value and use from it. But then, after so much of all this mountain climbing, I don’t feel much of anything. I just want this work to be over. I want to do my job. I want to go back to being able to focus on my students. And damn, I really want to be able to remember what a hangover feels like. What does it say about a person with somewhat unhealthy drinking habits that I haven’t had time to make terrible decisions. There hadn’t been time to do anything more than what is absolutely necessary, and even then it’s not exactly like I’m proud of all the work I’ve done. I wonder how many other people get out of grad school having been happy with maybe one third of the work they did. Maybe a lot?
This will be my last update before I graduate. There’s so much left to do, and I can’t see myself breaking out of my work-stupor for long enough to write something worth reading. I’ve got 28 days left. It takes 28 days for 2 hummingbirds to hatch, for some pins I ordered to hopefully get to my apartment, and for zombies to starve. And maybe in 28 days I’ll have my degree too.
I’ll miss writing and talking to all of you, but I have to go for now.
Next post coming in 29 days.
See you then.