Friday night I drove down to Norman to celebrate the birthday of a friend of mine. I only knew a few people there, so that meant meeting new ones. I do that pretty well. It being a college town, Academics are like a fart in a car. They’re everywhere. No escaping them. That too, is fine. I’m interested and as I am participating in this world, I love asking questions, picking brains, getting opinions.
I got them.
The most disenchanted of the disenchanted. I should have known when he said he didn’t listen to Mumford & Sons, and just gave a condescending shake of his head, like they’re too cool for him to listen to…I should have known right then to trust my judgement.
Asshattery approaches. Walk away.
I did not, however, walk away. Blame it on the homebrew, but I kept at it. Propelling the conversation, asking questions about the Ph.D experience, all innocently enough. At some point, it turned. Turned into a bitter bitter diatribe on the process, how I’ll never get into any of the programs I’m looking into, (OU, Vanderbilt-or as they called it, Vandy–because apparently only stupid people call it Vanderbilt, or UT Austin. I’ll never get in there. They only take so bla bla bla bla bla” They actually said, you will NEVER get into those programs. And the tone? The TONE…
It was just gross.
And Gross + Tipsy = Gripsy.
I woke up with a case of the grips. Tense. Icky. Unshakeable feelings of what the hell?
I went through my checklist: I know it’s a difficult process. I know that it’s not a golden ticket right into a tenured position at a university. I know that the variables are large and that guarantees are nonexistent. Am I stupid and naive in thinking I can do this? Am I doing it wrong?
When he asked me “why do you want this, what are you going to do with it, what do you want to be” I think I mumbled something about teaching literature, and writing professionally. The roll of his eyes must have sprained them beings as it was the umpteenth time he did it.
What I would have said to him in the light of day, was…”the difference here buddy, is I am me. I live my life differently. I work towards things and things work toward me. If my answer isn’t clear, it’s because that is the only part that has been revealed to me at this point and I’m ok going on like this until the rest IS revealed. I can do whatever I set out to do. And I choose. I choose to do it. I choose to be open to it and I choose not to be bitter.”
I sent off some emails to my thesis professor and to my other favorite professor. Interestingly enough, we (UCO) have former students in the doctorate programs of Vanderbilt (vandyschmandy) AND UT Austin.
They both gave me insight and advice and Dr Hayes promised to help me this year with presenting at conferences, getting published, and prepping my CV. We’ve emailed about my thesis topic and quite frankly I’m giddy about it.
That guy? I’m sad for him. He’s a thirtysomething All But Dissertation Ph.d, in 18th and 19th Century Literature and he’s just an asshat. That’s a waste of time.
It won’t be the last time I question myself and this journey, I’m sure. It won’t be the last time I rub elbows with Academic Asshats. Bedridden with the pissoffs.
I’m ok with that. I get it. But what they don’t get…is I’m me.
And that’s so much better than being them.