Me and a PhD

I don’t think I will ever adjust to this idea of myself being an academic. I mean I live, work and breath as an academic. But I feel like I will always struggle as to how my voice is valid and holds any agency. I hear other academics talk and I feel like they have the “it” I do not have. And clearly as I stare down the barrel of beginning my PhD program I gotta get over this and myself.

But it is hard. It is time I suppose to put my money where my mouth is. PhD or bust. I asked a good friend who’s sister just got an PhD in Science how long it took her. She responds, “6 years” and then adds, “But that was going full time.” And then I think crap. Crap. Crappity. Crap. And I wonder what it was that I was actually thinking.

I have to do this while working full time. So I guess if I am committed for 6 years or more than that is it. I get that baby when I am fifty so be it. I have said time and time again that I want to be a voice that isn’t being heard. I want to tell a new narrative and fill a void in my field. But then I still feel like that small town girl who got told she wouldn’t do much because she wasn’t “smart” like the other girls and boys. The one who they had to work a weird academic program out to get me to pass math.

Most of the time it is those idiots that said I would never that fuel my fire, but then we are talking PhD which is a whole other playing field. In fact, it isn’t even on the playing field. It is the suite up above the fancy seats in the stadium and I am struggling to put myself there. Yes, I know debaa112443daf283bf36741a2c30c77I can work my way there and I know I will. But I see and know many who have worked on or are working on their PhD’s and I pray and hope I have what it takes.

And eventually I talk myself into it and realize it is mind over matter and take it each a step at a time and it clicks. Then I get a three way email or phone call from some important peeps at my new university and they say all the smart things. And I don’t feel at all confident or even smart. And I suppose I am supposed to feel that way because at the beginning of my MA I felt like that. I felt Topsy Turvy and like someone pulled a rug out from me and I do now too.

And then they say things like, “We can’t wait to work with you” and “eager to see what you are going to do” and I feel the pressure. I feel an identity crisis of sorts. Like they called the wrong number or the switched my papers with others. Or I convince myself that they say that to everyone because God they could not be saying it to me.

So yea I have a meeting Thursday on campus. A meeting that I am pukey thinking about it. I am so nervous that I am dragging my whole crew with me so they can all wait patiently in the hallway. And I am just kidding on that (well maybe), but I want them there and I want to know they are there to support me and my whole guiding principle on this. Away we go to Muncie on Thursday.

Can I tell you sweet blog that last time I felt out of my element in this type of setting? It has been awhile. I don’t say that to brag. But I am passionate for this field and my purpose in it. Therefore I wear my confidence sometimes, not necessarily as a sign of being conceited, but as a sign of hard work and study.

A month or so ago, I was at a party and having a great conversation with someone who I consider very important to my academic self. I see much of myself in her and her path. She knows I look up to her and respect her. I was lamenting on how I felt about leaving my Alma Mater and how sad it was making me. And I am. I have been there for 12 years studying. I worked there and honestly at times felt like I lived there.

She looks up and says, “Yea, but it is time. You need that challenge.” And I suppose the way I feel is what she meant. I need to feel challenged and tested. I need to become more firm in my passion, research and career. I need to develop my academic identity. Sometimes familiarity doesn’t let you out of that. It is comfortable. And I know she is right.

Now if someone could tell me how I will manage with 40+ hours in my job, 3 kiddos and many other responsibilities that I cannot even list because how do you? However, I so remember during my MA feeling like working full time and doing it that it was impossible, but I survived. I didn’t just survive. I thrived. They were some of my best grades yet.

Someone once told me I cannot do it all. And while I agree to extent. I would argue in that in this case I can and I will.  It is onward for me and a Phd.



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