Two weeks ago, I withdrew from my Ph.D. program.
(Oof, that was hard to write. To see in black and white like that, it's still a bit jarring. Knowing a decision is right and feeling an immediate happiness about it are not necessarily synonymous, I'm learning.)
I thought it was.
Let's get right to it.
It was a heart-wrenching decision, yes. One that I put a great deal of thought, tears, and sleepless nights into. But, as soon as I made it, I knew it was right.
I finally came to that place I was afraid to go for so very long. That place of questioning this path I was on; a place I didn't ever let my mind travel, always halting that train of thought before it gathered steam, afraid of what I might find if I did. Gradually, I let my mind go there and it led me to admit to myself that my long-term goals had changed, and a Ph.D. was no longer what I wanted. While I do love to teach, I am not equally keen on research. The thought of committing myself to a career in academia, to a job that held research, publishing, and securing outside funding in higher regard than the quality of my teaching made my sad. Weary. Not at all excited for the future.
And then, after a great deal of self reflection, having finally admitted to myself that I was continuing down a path I knew wasn't right for me, I wondered why I was still on it.
My answer, when I finally came to it, was sad: It was simply because I was afraid of what people would think of me if I stopped. I finally came to terms with this, recognizing how deeply flawed it was, and in that instant I knew in my heart that withdrawing was the right decision.
I had to show her.
Do I want to teach my child that continuing with something you feel isn't right for you just because you're afraid what other people might think or say is how you should live your life? No. I want better for her. I want her to be true to herself. I want her to have enough faith in herself to make the hard choices - those choices that will bring her closer to living a genuine, true-to-herself life.
I have to show her.
And in doing so, I will live a more true-to-me life.
I'd have to tell... everyone.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?