The Constant Evaluation of Self

These days, I tend to write all my blog posts at once and schedule them to publish daily Monday through Thursday. It’s a model that works, though it also means that I’m writing in advance of certain life events. Perhaps, since I’ve written this post on a Sunday, things will look differently from a Thursday point of view.

On Sunday – now, today, here – I find myself backsliding mentally into the same perspective I was trapped into last October 7th, 2013. That date marked the moment when I made for myself a passionate declaration: “I will not do a PhD” (see Temptation is a Doctorate). I described how it would perhaps be a natural step for my current career trajectory, but something that I might be doing for all the wrong reasons (e.g. peer pressure, assumed familiarity with the doctoral process, etc.).

However, after a few go-nowhere interviews and a good many conversations with my partner (who, like myself, reflects deeply on his situation and has found that the working world is not all it’s cracked up to be), I’m tempted to call up my Master’s thesis adviser and beg him to keep me as a student forever. I think of the enjoyment I derive from critical thinking, research, and writing; I reflect on my feelings of competency during my graduate experience. It seems all-too alluringly easy to hide away for another 4 to 5 years in the academic system.

I’ve been stubbornly resisting the PhD due to fears of becoming terminally depressed, not having any financial supports, and frankly, not being able to find a supervisor with the potential to support and inspire me (my Master’s thesis adviser was fantastic, and probably spoiled me). In contrast, I believe that I would enjoy many elements of the doctoral process. If I managed to avoid the pressure to remain forever in academia, I could take the PhD process and use it to ready myself for the tough, global economy (as suggested in the comic strip, below). Or I could just enjoy the learning process. Whichever.

If nothing else, past experience has taught me to ‘never say never’. It seems that the things against which I am most firmly opposed tend to happen; due to various external circumstances, and regardless of my vacillating and personal insecurities. I constantly have to remind myself that just because I feel young and healthy doesn’t mean that I can know the answers to all of life’s questions. Humbling and failure-based experiences are likely ahead. These experiences will unfold independently of my will – my primary task is to keep up my constant evaluation of self, and know why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Copyright Bill Watterson.
Copyright Bill Watterson.


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