I’m Pretty Tired, I Think I’ll Quit School Now
I’ve been in school for a very long time. Not continuously; there have been breaks, but the breaks were always with pending school in mind. School has always been my happy place. It didn’t matter if I was in a private school, a public school, a homeschool (I was homeschooled for a short while), or a university. I have simply felt at home surrounded by academia.
You might ask why I needed school after the required years were over. Can’t I study on my own? Why yes, yes I can. I’ve never had a problem with independent learning. But I like the school environment – the checkpoints I have to pass in order to get various rewards (stickers, grades, etc) and level up.
I often think of my life as one big video game RPG (yeah, I’m weird). I translate even the smallest mundane tasks into important quests in my head and imagine that I need to finish said task in order to obtain another piece of the map, or whatever it is that I imagine up at the time. This gets me through many unpleasant errands and chores, especially those in bad winter weather, when I don’t feel like going out.
School was an easy way to realize a portion of my life-game outside of my imagination. I didn’t have to pretend that I was leveling up, because I really did.
I started college at 17 as a physics major. My parents agreed to pay for no more than 4 years of college, so it was important that I was efficient with my time there. My first semester was wrought with drama and unfortunate events, so I took the next semester off to get my stuff together. I had changed my major to art just before the end of my first semester. My parents weren’t terribly impressed. As good parents will do, they worried about my future and the practicality of an art degree. They tried to compromise and suggest that I do graphic design instead of froo froo studio arts. I tried to compromise their compromise and suggested animation. I applied to a graphic arts school for animation and was accepted, but another series of setbacks and drama prevented me from going (probably for the best). I don’t think I’d be too happy in today’s animation world. I preferred pencil and paper drawing, not computer tech magic (incidentally, I stopped drawing after this didn’t pan out). My interest in animation was also tied to an interest in film making in general. I considered majoring in film at the local university, but there was a waiting list. I compromised with English thinking “hey, maybe I can be a screen writer.” As you can see, my “efficient” first four years wasn’t starting out so efficient. My parents were unsettled about my flighty interests and lack of career-oriented plans, but they still guaranteed four-years of funding. Somehow I ended up making a deal with them that I would finish in the originally allotted time (despite the semester set back) in order to secure their confidence in me that I would, indeed finish. So I completed my English degree in 3 years time, making liberal use of summer classes and 20+ credit hour semesters. I also worked part time, so it was quite a challenge. But I did it. And I did it all with stellar grades. I would have had a perfect GPA if not for my first mess-up semester in physics.
Oh, physics. How I love you. How I hate you.
No one told me to major in physics. I wasn’t following orders from my parents. I really wanted to study physics. I had been certain that I wanted to be an astrophysicist since I was 14. Before that, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Either way, science was my jam.
I had skipped a grade before entering high school, but I didn’t skip ahead in math. So, when I started college, I had no calculus background. This wasn’t so unusual. Many students enter college without having taken calculus in high school. But it kinda mattered since I wanted to take the calculus-based physics class, the honors version no less. Other students had successfully taken calculus and physics concurrently and I though I was good enough to do so as well. That didn’t work out for me. A combination of non-academic related issues and my damaged pride (no longer the smartest fish in the pod) led me to give up.
After I graduated, I immediately regretted not following through with physics. I was full of what-ifs. I met my future husband a few days after graduating. He proposed a few months later and agreed to help me go back to school. A year went by before the marriage, and then another semester of waiting before I began my physics studies again. This time, I finished. Not without a lot of stress and effort, mind you. I struggled the first few semesters. Again, life got in the way of my focus. Getting married, moving to a state that I absolutely hated, and thousands of miles from my family – it was a lot to adjust to. But I carried on and eventually got the diploma to prove that I did it. I can even proudly say that my final semester grades in physics were all As. I waffled about continuing to graduate school or teaching high school physics. I was enrolled in a teacher training program for a year, but that didn’t work out. I decided that completing the physics degree was more about proving to myself that I could rather than planning for a future in it (although, I still have moments when I wonder what-if). By the time I finished physics, I was sorely missing literature and humanities studies. I immediately enrolled for a double major in anthropology and German. Now that I was all on my own for funding (no more grants and no more family), I needed to consider efficiency again. Anthropology had to go. I finished German short of three credits to a degree (through no fault of my own – the school just left me hanging and I would have had to put off graduate school for a year just for those three nagging credits, so I let it be).
Well, here I am, finally in graduate school (finished my first year in Comparative Literature) and finally feeling like Forest Gump when he was done running. Is it graduate school in particular or just school? graduate school is certainly something else, but I think I would have loved my time here a lot more when I was younger. I’m just tired now. I’m tired, and I want to do something else besides school. I feel like I will disappoint some people. My husband and some of my other family was hoping I’d get a Ph.D. But I’m really tired. And I’m getting too old for this. I **am** too old for this. I want to enjoy life a little, rather than be tied down by a thousand after school assignments and such. I want to come home and watch TV without feeling guilty for having more important things to do.
I’d like to have more time for my hobbies too. Perhaps even open an Etsy store or start a tea business. So many other things I want to do and school is no longer one of them.
I still have a year left of my Master’s program. I’m going to try to stick it out. I’m getting paid as a TA and tuition is covered, so I might as well. But we’ll see. I’m definitely not going for a PhD though.