I feel trapped, here. In any other phase of my life, I would have left by now. I'd have gotten in my car and landed somewhere new and interesting. I'd have given it my best try and walked away when I started feeling this small and low.
If there is anything that I have learned as an adult, it's how to put up with people who don't care about you in order to get what you need/want/are aiming for. That sounds jaded and harsh, no?
So I'm putting up with it all. So I am slowly and clearly giving up that part of myself that would not stand for such treatment. That would not have been so self-serving. I can feel its absence daily now.
Today, it feels like I've lost my super-powers. On some level, it's a relief to be worried about the same things as everyone else: career, money. At what cost? At the cost of having a clear, broader picture of how everything fits together and integrates! At the cost of being able to peek into the lives of others and say kind, supportive, helpful things! At the cost of my social, giggling, happy, dancing, creative self!
I call it "grad school eating my soul," but it's not only grad school. That's the problem with the limitation of scope: problems get simple and the solutions you develop in response just don't work. Because they are also too simple for the true complexity of things. It's more like adulthood eating my empathy and idealism.
I struggled to keep my empathy through teaching and Phoenix. I think I kept most of it. There are parts of it that I left behind, thinking that like a starfish, I could grow my empathy back. It hasn't really grown back, but I haven't really given it a chance. I think that the proper environment for growing back star fish empathy involves service, meditation, meeting many new and different people, and dance. I haven't found/made the time for such an activity yet. I keep promising it to myself, and then the next crisis looms large.
The prevalent feeling of being in grad school is that no one gives a fuck what you're doing. After three and some odd years of sitting and explaining and planning and trying to make it workable/livable, that is what really comes through. No one cares. Unless you threaten to leave, because that could decrease their prestige somehow. So you sit and wait and wait and wait for people to come through while the university fucks up your money and your time. I'm still here because I still think someone is going to come through. I think I've waited too long, though. How do you leave grad school after four years with no degree?
And I'm not sure the degree is worth it at all. The more time I spend, the more time I realize that I don't want to be like the professors above me. The more I realize that, the more I realize that I am becoming them. I am becoming as assholey and protected and privileged as they are. It's not a process I can see as it happens. It just happens, because everyone above a certain point is the same way. It's the social norm, so we all become more similar to it so that we don't feel so badly at the end of the day.
I mean, we HAVE TO believe our work is very, very important. Otherwise, why would we waste 4 years of our young lives and all of our good will on this endeavor? It has to be important! Other people must see that it's so important!!!
And that is when you lose all of your interesting, easily-relatable stories. That's when, no matter how socially engaged you were before, you lose the ability to share your own voice, because it has been eaten by your VERY IMPORTANT WORK.
In my case, it's VERY IMPORTANT WORK that I have no say in, no benefit from, and that in no way goes beyond the walls of this ivory tower I've found myself trapped in.
Which was not my intention at all. I was more of a reformer than anything. Why waste such quantities of government money if it does nothing other than bring you OR your advisor prestige?
It may be that I have yet again given too much of myself to this endeavor for too long. I am meaner and pricklier. All I want is out. I keep planning out the next two years of my life in the hopes that with a clear plan and someone coming through, that I'll make it.
That's as far as I can see: making it to the damn degree.
I think adulthood and I are going to break up. I have a list of things I want back:
my creative time, whatever form it wants to take.
my social time.
the will to help others.
the ability to see the big picture.
any semblance of spirituality.
Here's what adulthood can have back:
the appearance of free will. I'd like actual free will back, thanks.
stupid settling down bullshit from maternal sources.
I'll even let it have all the furniture and plants, if it just leaves me alone.
From the next phase of anti-adulthood, I would like to grow some new skills and abilities in a positive way:
NOT to fear being wrong.
faith in self and ability.