Well, we'll call this post a processing post. I spent all day in class yesterday, trying to focus but not succeeding. It's a busy and chaotic week in which besides actively job searching (thinking and planning for interviews, interviewing, submitting applications, etc), teaching, working and the PhD program, I also had to unexpectedly care for someone. To be clear--I'm more than happy to care for family and friends--without a second thought. That said, it doesn't mean it doesn't put added stress into one's life when you welcome someone into your home for several weeks who has limited mobility (and I can only imagine how stressful and challenging it is for that person--I'm not disconnected from that). It would be challenging without anything else. However, I'm happy to do it even if it adds new obstacles to my schedule.
So with all that in my head, I felt this week has been one big ball of stress and of course, that's led me to doing a fair share of stress eating and not nearly enough running. Funny, how that works--I have ample opportunities to cram food in my face but not enough to get out and running. I was definitely irritable, exhausted, and just wandering in my own mind. Coming into class and maintaining any level of attention felt like a lost cause. My mind couldn't hold onto ideas long enough to connect them or make sense of them. My class participation was a bit of a joke and I'd be surprised if anything I contributed came across as coherent. Blarggg!
And of course, being in such a rut with a good deal of it being spurred on by issues with higher education, it certainly did lead me to think about whether I'm in the right program or if I want to persist. Now, I know some of this is part of my own regularly struggle with being in a PhD program that is in some ways, the exact part of the process. I get that. But of course, when I am in the midst of it, struggling with it, frustrated with college leadership in many different areas of higher education, it certainly does make me hesitate and wonder about the work that I do and its meaning. I supposed it's inevitable but it's still a dark and challenging place to be.
Several things collided in one week. Much of it revolved around work politics and the realization that as much as I love where I have worked for the past nearly five years, that it was indeed time to move on. This transition may take weeks or months and though I've already been actively job-searching, this week crystallized on many levels that it is better to move on than to stay. That if I am ever going to do more at this institute, I need some space for the time being.
The big reasons to leave have to do with growing and exploring new opportunities that will push me to learn more than what I am currently doing. However, there are certainly smaller factors that have encouraged me as well and much of that has to do with finding disappointment with different leaders within the institute. I know full-well that I will find such issues elsewhere, but I need to do so ahistorically--with the fresh eyes of a new employee learning the institute rather than the complex history that I have had with the current institute.
Regardless, the process has been a bit disheartening and hit me a bit hard since higher education is the focus of my program. I know that I will inevitably move pass this state of mind and be more excited and enthusiastic about what I'm doing, but I think right now, I'm just pulled down by a mixture of stress, disillusionment, and disappointment.
Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program? Check them out:
- Day 1
- Week 1
- First 2 Courses Completed
- First 2 Courses Finished
- Semester 2, Here We Go
- The Existential Crisis of the Week
- The Balancing Act
- Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
- Zeroing in on Research
- Completing the Second Semester
- Dissertation Journal #1
- Dissertation Journal #2
- So Starts The Third Semester
- My Educational Philosophy...for now
- Dissertation Journal #3
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