Saturday, August 10, 2013

Grad School Ruined My Life: Part One

In the spirit of "tweeting longer,"which was the informal pledge I made when I asked to re-join our little community, I am going to continue the thoughts I started expressing on lex's post here. (And, if I may pat myself on the back for small steps toward much-needed progress, I did so without waiting to be prompted/encouraged by one of you. For that matter, I should note that I volunteered to come back to the blog without pulling any passive aggressive insecure bullshit moves like sitting around hoping one of you would ask me to first. Is it sad that I consider these things growth in any sense of the word? Yes. Yes it is. But hey, that's where I'm at right now, y'know?)

As I started saying in that comment, I have not felt that I truly fit in anywhere nor felt any real sense of community since I left Eugene and finished grad school. I should note, for the record, that I am not even remotely a nostalgic person--at least not in the sense of looking back at any point in my life and wishing to relive the "good old days." I've never wanted to get stuck in one place/one moment in time and stay there, unchanged, forever. So it's not that I want to go back to that time and place; I just want elements of what made it so satisfying to be part of my life again.

Those of you who know me are painfully aware of how invested I seem to be in self-defining as a Failed Academic and how much time I spend bitching and moaning over the (bad in hindsight) professional choices I have made. There's a lot to unpack in that endless stream of whining. But one part of it is directly related to what I am talking about--my belief, possibly (probably?) hopelessly flawed, that if I had stayed "on track" with my academic ambitions I would still have the community I miss so much, at least in some form. (I know that's not exactly true because I felt lonely and isolated during the three years I was TT faculty, too. But less so, definitely. Nevertheless, it is unquestionably the case that I have felt like an outsider since I left academia. Could be coincidence. In the end, does it really matter?)

With my colleagues (insert snarky solidcitizen comment here) or neighbors or various random folks who now fill the parts of my life that other grad students from my department or from the union used to fill, I always have this acute sense of being...wrong. Weird. Different in a bad way. Like I just can't seem to find anything other than surface level circumstantial similarity in common with anyone. I can't ever progress beyond small talk or shop talk, and even that seems to require pretending to care about things that don't really interest me like sports or shopping or crap American teevee or whatever scandal passes for "news" on whatever shitty news outlet people watch/read or omigodmyhusbandissuchajerkdontchaknow. No, actually I don't know. I don't know what the fuck any of you are thinking or feeling or care about. I seriously have no. fucking. idea. how to actually integrate myself into your world. So I spend a lot of time in my own head. And it's lonely in here. Also, frankly, rather boring.

That's why I am here, I guess. That's why I stay on Twitter, more or less carrying on a conversation with myself. I like to pretend that there is a community out there, some place I might actually belong, where someone who is not my partner might actually be interested in what I am thinking about.

So, shall we begin?


solidcitizen said...

I know what you mean, sister. Is it a function of getting older, set in our ways? Is it a function of being out of academia? Or is graduate school just a great time where you meet people who are exploring and thinking and talking and struggling and accepting and sharing? I think that is part of it.

I think of this as I start solidlife 2.0. Where are friends going to come from? I'm too me to introduce myself to new people. I have no interest (right now anyway) in making new buds. I know a lot of people in this boat. We're in mid-life. I'm trying to remember that I am lucky to have what I have and to find ways to reach out to old friends.

Yay OG 2.0!

lex dexter said...

I identify with this post very intensely and feel like I am in good company with this crowd.