Why I Am Not in Graduate School

This question has come up a lot in emails lately.  People check out my story and notice that I started graduate school and ask me any variation of the question of why not just go back to school.  So, here is why I am not currently pursuing a graduate degree:

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

It’s truly that simple.  I actually had planned to go to graduate school right after college and deferred my acceptance to take a job that I really wanted.  It was a good thing that I did that because the job gave me real-life experience in the field that made me realized that pursuing museum studies on a graduate level might not be what I wanted to do.  I switched gears and while I enjoyed the graduate classes I took towards a master’s in history, it wasn’t enough.  The program was grooming me for a doctorate and a life as a college professor – a noble career path but ill-suited for me.  So I stopped and I haven’t gone back since.

I have nothing against graduate school.  My aforementioned roommate is in graduate school.  Most of my closest friends are in various stages of the graduate school cycle – applying, attending, trying desperately to finish, or considering going back after a few years of professional life.  But for me, it just isn’t the right time.  As I’ve talked about before, I have no idea what my passion is – how can I possibly pick a graduate program?

Look, I love school.  I am a test-taking, multi-chapter-reading, note-transcribing fool.  Anyone who knew me as an undergraduate knows that I love being in class, being inspired, and being challenged.  I’m just not sure if I’m ready to make the leap to the next academic level without knowing what the step means.

What do you think, dear readers?  How many of you are in graduate school?  Are you happy with your decision to go?  What made you decide on your current program?  Leave it in the comments or drop us an email at postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dotcom]

Dignity. Always, Dignity.

One of my favorite movies in the entire world is Singin’ in the Rain.  I watched it religiously growing up and to this day, it is my ideal rainy weather movie. I just finished a book about the making of the film, which lead me to rewatching it yet again a few weeks ago.

One scene in particular hit me as I continue to figure out what my mid-20s are supposed to be.  It’s the scene where R.F. Simpson, head of the studio, has come to shut production of The Dueling Cavalier down because of the advent of talking pictures.  Cosmo Brown, played delightfully by Donald O’ Connor, has this great moment:

Cosmo: Talking pictures! That means I’m out of a job. At last I can start suffering and write that symphony.
R.F.: You’re not out of job, we’re putting you in as head of our new music department.
Cosmo: Oh, thanks, R.F.! At last I can stop suffering and write that symphony.

O’ Connor’s delivery of these lines never fails to make me laugh but it also made me think.  We often associate the idea of unemployment with artistic or creative pursuits.  Cosmo essentially says If I have to give up the day to day studio job that pays my bills, I might as well be miserable and try to write my masterpiece.  Of course, the real joke comes next, when Cosmo acknowledges that his promotion will end his suffering, thus making it easier to write that masterpiece.  The joke is so well-played because it acknowledges that, suffering or not, Cosmo is most likely never going to write his symphony.

It seems like most of us want it both ways – we want to have the time and freedom to commit to what we love, whether it’s writing a symphony or pursuing painting or creating our first start-up business or being a stay at home mom.  We see examples every day, in pop culture and real life, of people who sacrifice to pursue their dreams.  On the other hand, it’s often impractical, inconvenient, and seemingly foolish to pursue option A.  It’s generally preferable to be financial secure, emotionally stable, and fulfilled at work in order to be in the physical, mental, and emotional state necessary to pursue our passions.

As noted in my last post, I wouldn’t even know what passion to pursue.  As of today, I have no symphony to write and no art to suffer for.  But at least I have Donald O’ Connor to help me laugh about.

Note:  If anyone can find a YouTube version on this scene, I will be your new best friend and credit you in the post!  Email to postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dot com]

A Lack of Passion

I’m going to say the thing most people writing blogs would never say:

I don’t know what my passion is.

The entire concept of blogging is built upon the foundation of passion.  You love the music on the TV show Treme? There’s a blog for that.  You think lesbians who resemble teenage pop sensations are awesome?  There’s a blog for that.  From paying down personal debt to terrible cakes, fashion to fetishes, you can find a person blogging about it.

I would not describe myself as a passionate person.  I am energetic.  Animated.  Lively.  Outgoing.  A dear friend once said that what she liked about me most was the fact that I was interested in and fascinated by everything.  For her, my defining feature is that I have many interests and no singular passion.

Do other people feel that way?  How does one pursue their passion when they don’t know what it is?  I sometimes worry that I lost my passion – that I was perhaps born to love doing something but forgot along the way what that thing is.  Maybe I let teachers or parents or friends distract me with other pursuits or discourage me from certain decisions.  More troubling, maybe I subconsciously stopped myself from cultivating a passion as a means of self-preservation.

Do not cry for me, blog readers.  Do not develop a mental image of a distraught quarter-lifer, sobbing on her keyboard at her bleak existence.  I do have interests, hobbies, and pursuits that bring me happiness, fulfillment, and a means to filling the days.  I occasionally get a glimmer of passion, a feeling that perhaps this is it.

And for now, I think that might just be enough.