Saturday, May 22, 2010
Graduating from college has been an obsession for me since I was fourteen, when it seemed impossible, to a few months ago when I thought I could never finish my senior paper-- until a week ago. Some part of me hopes that the UMN analyzes my credits and decides that they won't send me a diploma so that I can keep doing what I know how to do, what I am good at.
It sounds ugly, but the sublimation from eight-grade education to BA has been an overwhelming marker of who I am. I've wanted to graduate to even the score, to be like every one else. Psychologically, I have tried to be like everyone else. I secretly congratulated myself when I seemed to blend in, when I got the costume right as an undergraduate. I always felt a little guilty, like I was getting something past my professors when I got an A. I could never get very close to my peers, in case they found out that I was a fraud. This year, I became marvelous at managing the college bureaucratic system; getting credits and requirements passed through. I always had the satisfaction that my accomplishments, though they were the same as everyone elses', were something more because I wasn't trained. It was all pure Catherine.
But now? In Russian they ask "что делать?". What to do? What must be done? I've gotten what I wanted and now I am just an ordinary twenty-two year old looking for a job. Having overcome the high school/college obstacle, I find myself looking for new ones. Since I refuse to admit that mindless secretarial jobs are in my future, I answer questions about my plans with "I am thinking about graduate school". But I am not sure I have the obstinacy to get through a doctoral program because I am fixed now. I could avoid walking uphill for the rest of my life if I wanted to, though now that I say it it doesn't sound like a good way to live my life-- avoiding challenges.
The market it so bad for English PhDs that I am sure my professors will not encourage me if I ask for letters of recommendation. And then, there is the dissertation. Do I really have what it takes to make a significant contribution to the field? Wouldn't I rather work forty hours a week somewhere (probably making about the same amount of money) and go home to read for pleasure?
I just don't know anymore. If I do, I might be miserable. If I don't, I might feel like I should have for the rest of my life.
At least I have this for now: