I'm pretty sure when I started ReVerb-ing, the intention wasn't to shift the entire concept of my life, and begin to rejigger the construct of my universe. Oh well. There it is.
I've spent a lot of time this year thinking about what makes me happy. Not my parents, not my teachers, not my old boss... me. Working towards that lofty, ethereal idea -- I mean, it's not only hokey, but straightup, it scares the pants off of me.
Oh, M'ris! Hooray! You're doing things that scare you!
Seriously, shut UP, brain, internet, did I ask you? No I did not.
See, I've been hardwired to believe that my worth is in what I do. Not just the act of doing things, but the things themselves, those were assigned a societal value, and that value was my value.
Without those things, I'm not quite sure where I stand.
See, I took a semester off from grad school this term. In all likelyhood, this semester will turn into two, likely into forever. And with that, I'll be flushing (x) number of years down the tubes, not completing a degree, disappointing my parents, the admission committee that gave me my scholarship, and, y'know, the whole damn universe. At least, that's how it feels, when I step back and think about it.
There's a very good reason for not finishing my program, though. It's so simple: I hate it. I'm not learning the things I want to learn there, the skills I want to have. And, y'know, it makes me miserable. Showing up every day to participate in a dialogue I don't agree with (structurally, ideologically, ethically - yes. Just yes.) is, was, has been, killing me. Eating the little pieces of my soul where I had my wishes and my values and my concepts of success. Showing up every day and effectively being told "No. That thing you want to learn? You're in the wrong place for it. We can't (won't, don't want to) help you. Here, learn all these other things that you hated in undergrad and still dislike now!"
It was eating me alive. But I was so wrapped up in the end goal, in the finishing for the sake of finishing. In the making other people happy, making other people proud of me, that I couldn't see it. This semester allowed me to take a step back and realize why I was still in the program - and it wasn't for me.
The second I realized that, that I was putting myself through hell just to make someone else happy... that's when I realized that something was seriously fucked up. I didn't realize I had to quit school - that came much later. But there was a teeny, tiny part of me that realized, for maybe the first time, that it's my life.
There's a lot of backstory and therapy to the weight of that realization, that I'm the one driving this hovercraft, that I won't get in to here.
I live my own life. The decisions I make are my own. They make my own path. I can choose things that I want, I can choose things I don't want. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? I mean, I choose what I eat every day. That's easy. (Pasta yes, eggs no. See? Simple!) But on a larger scale, somehow, that was just all lost to me. I was wrapped up with pleasing my parents, pleasing my professors, hell, even pleasing my teachers from High School. Every person who ever exclaimed how much "potential!" I had, or how "intelligent!" I am, or "what a good writer!" I could be, if only I applied myself. Those messages got stuck in the cogs, wheeling around and around until I didn't even realize that their messages, their hopes and dreams for me - they weren't mine.
There's so much I want to expound on there - concepts of self, idealistic interpretations of "intelligence" (there's probably a conversation about "the greater good" in there, somewhere), constructs of worth, societal expectations of your garden-variety antisocial nerdling.
But the point of this entry is simply this: I quit grad school. I've never been happier. And I'm ready to move the fuck on to the next part of my life. The part that I choose, that isn't chosen for me. The part that makes me happy, even if it makes everyone else scratch their head.
I'm not quitting learning, and I'm certainly not quitting trying. I'm just exiting out of a structure that wasn't right for me, in the hopes of finding something that is.