On trying, testing limits and taking a break

When I was researching whether to go to grad school, my queries were mostly centered around what type of program to choose, which school to attend and what it would take to get in.

I knew why I wanted to go back – or at least, I thought I did. I wanted a better chance at getting the jobs I had thought I’d prepared for in undergrad, but hadn’t yet landed. I wanted to join the more elite ranks of those with Masters degrees. I wanted more than what I had. 

So, I studied for the GRE, got the scores I needed and got into accepted into a graduate program.

And that’s when the whole thing went to hell.

I should have known from the start that I wasn’t happy. I chalked it up to starting a new job at the same time. I attributed it to taking two classes at once. I gave in to the idea that I wasn’t as smart as I always thought I was. I ignored the fact that I left every class either in tears or enraged and I dismissed the nagging feeling that I wasn’t getting any value out of them.

In fact, I did what any normal human being would do in a situation that causes such misery.

I stuck it out for another semester.

But it was somewhere in that second semester that my grad school related searches started changing. I searched about transfers. I searched about quitting and I stumbled across this post, which – not to be overly dramatic – more or less changed my life. I started wondering whether I wanted to finish classes, but decided I couldn’t just quit.

I’d told too many people. I’d spent too much time and money. I wouldn’t be alone because my husband was starting classes this year.

But perhaps most of all – I do not quit things.

So I registered for classes, took the summer off and prepared for another year.

But summer brought more than a few relaxed evenings – it brought a long sought after job change. It brought perspective and it brought me to the realization that I couldn’t see the point in wasting one more minute being miserable, just because I was afraid to quit.

Last week, the fall semester began. I dutifully went to class, took notes and braced myself for the readings ahead.

And then I saw this video, and it reminded me that I’m supposed to be doing this for me. I’m supposed to be doing this because I want to. That I shouldn’t be wasting another minute working too hard on something I care too little about, just because I think I’m supposed to.

So today, I withdrew from classes.

I quit grad school.  

I quit grad school and I feel relieved and scared, happy and terrified from one minute to the next. I suppose only time will tell if I feel the same as Jessica Ogilivie did in her blog post, but right now, I know this is the right choice.

I had to try. I had to go to grad school or I’d always be left wondering. I may try again or I may try a different program. I’ve tested those limits. I’ve seen what the stress and anxiety does to my life and my relationships and right now, I don’t want to test them any further. I’m taking a break – and I’m doing it because I want to.

Not because I told anyone I was going to. 

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