I wasn’t sure why because we are very different people, but I somehow felt he could understand what it’s like to be in something and be out of it at the same time. Maybe, I told him, it’s not the case for you but for me I’m reevaluating. I’m asking myself what my reasons are for being where I am. Not because I want to leave, but because I am need renewed love for it. I need to find a way to love it again.
There was a therapist colleague of mine who once said marriage is a constant renegotiation of needs. Partners had to adjust to maintain the stasis of their relationship whatever that happened to be. With me and my PhD it was the way to gain legitimacy to gain experience to gain access and insight into higher education in a way that would remain limited by a lack of formal education. Sure there are ways to excel in higher ed without a terminal degree, but those ways are the exception not the rule.
And as I’ve set new goals for myself, well only one concrete goal (to write) I wonder how my PhD will better equip me for that. Of course the obvious answer is the practicality. Writing a dissertation and going through the research and editing process is not going to be a wasted experience for someone who wants to be a writer. But what about the other stuff? Committees, conferences, presentations, proposals, facilitation and the millions of other things? They matter. But in a different way than before. Before involvement was strategic. Now involvement is more intentional. I am far more cautious of how I invest my time and energy.
The same could be said of people. I recognize the people I work with as colleagues however in a different way than I did before. Before it was about their research how they were situationing themselves in the field and now? Now it’s much more global. Who is this person and how do you connect? Is there an opportunity to connect and grow from one another. I suppose previously for me it was much more transactional and now it’s much more transformational. Is that what happens when you invest in yourself? You stop needing to barter with others.
He and I had never had a discussion about career in this way. I was sure tonight would not be the night,too. But still I asked. Because he’s in one of those programs that requires tenacity and endurance. And I needed to know what he told himself in mile 23.