Life has actually not been that great since 2015. And a large part of that was my decision to come back to the United States. The US is awesome and I am very proud to be from this country, but living in the States does not feed me with the same excitement and varied learning experiences that living overseas does.
"What are you most proud of personally and professionally?" This is a question that my friend Karen posted on instagram a few days ago. This question has really stumped me. 2017 was an incredibly hard year for lots and lots of reasons. Some of the reasons I am not going to delve into on this post, but should be obvious when looking back at any of the headlines.
I wasted a lot of time moving to Tallahassee and starting a PhD program. This is no one's fault. I thought this program was the right fit for me and the professors thought I was the right fit for the program. But the more classes I attended and the more conversations I had with various classmates, the more I realized this program was absolutely the wrong fit for me.
The absolute best decision I made in 2017 was to walk away from this PhD program. I put so much pressure on myself that this degree had to be finished RIGHT NOW, which was ridiculous! I have proven time and time again that I can go to school whenever I want to go to school. And doing a PhD program whilst teaching 15 classes at a private school in another state is not how someone should do a PhD program--not me anyhow. There should be proper funding and time given to soak up the new information and appropriately sink into my doctoral studies.
I was driving to and from work everyday, an hour each way, teaching and planning and wrangling students, and trying to complete coursework and readings in the evenings and on weekends. It wasn't working and my 180/141 recently read blood pressure proved this . . . Just for kicks I made a chart of how my time was spent, weekly, for the semester. See below. While I did not include the obnoxious amount of time I spent strolling the aisles at Trader Joe's thinking about food and cooking, it does accurately record the other ways I spent my time. Most activities overlap, which you will realize once you add up the time spent and see that it far exceeds a normal week's hour allotment. I was trying to read during my down time in my classrooms, or listen to readings in my car on my long drives. I cut my sleeping back to a strict 5 hours a night. I tried to write multiple 3 page papers in 30 minutes with no editing or final read-throughs. It just wasn't working, you guys. While I was steadily riding on B's throughout the semester, this is not how I wanted to be a doctoral student.
Since 2007, I have been in school almost solidly: I finished my undergraduate degree, completed two masters (an MA and an MFA), and lived and worked overseas for 4 years whilst traveling back and forth to Baltimore to finish said MFA. That's a lot, you guys. A lot.
Life is a rollercoaster! Am I right, peoples? So if it was such a crappy year for me, what good things did happen? It's absolutely possible for the good and the bad to co-exist . . . So perhaps trying to focus on the positive will make the transition into 2018 even better!!!
Lots of my friends had babies this year. That's awesome! Several of my closest friends got married in 2017--also exciting and wonderful! So let's revisit Karen's question from above, and refocus: "What are you most proud of personally and professionally?"
Of course Rigby loves the new place and--although I have only been there for a week or so--I have already started cooking! It's fabulous to feel excited about all things again!