Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things I Cannot Say

Some days I feel stupider than I can ever remember feeling, frustrated with my lack of knowledge, my lack of language, my inability to join the conversation. Sometimes I question what I'm doing here, and what I will do next. Do I want the PhD? Do I believe, at any level, that I'm capable of it? Is it taking the easy way out by not even trying to apply? Do I really want it? Or do I just want to write and teach? Is teaching my calling, even more than writing?

The questions only breed more questions.

But I don't have to know right now.


Sometimes I don't know how I got so lucky, to be where I am right now, to have found what I've found, against my will, against all my expectations. Some moments are too beautiful to experience with my eyes open; the only way to keep from crying is to close my eyes and rest my face against your neck. Sometimes I want to say it too.


Rachel M. said...


Isn't it ridiculous that during our first MFA semesters we're already stressing over PhD possibilities? I would have to start the application process in less than a year from now. Acks!

I was positive before coming here that I'd do the PhD thing..Why not? I'm young and mostly root-less. But something about it distant. Yuk!

Just wanted to let you know that I put you on my linkies page over at

TMAR said...

It will fall into place when the time is right. Don't stress!

Qrystal said...

I happened upon your blog because I was writing a haiku that seemed better when I left out verbs, but I was second-guessing myself and so I googled poetry without verbs to see if anyone else thinks that's okay. You wrote a lovely example of such a poem in May 2008, and it was one of the first to come up in the search. Your blog's "about me" section resonated with me (grad students, unite!) and so I checked to see what you've been posting recently.

More resonating followed when I happened on this post. I am technically in a PhD program right now, after my Master's thesis project crumbled to pieces and my advisor wanted to give me another chance but the university wouldn't pay me as a Masters-level teaching assistant any longer. For me, staying around was the obvious choice, the "easy way", because it took no effort other than accepting being transferred up to the PhD program.

I've spent the whole time since then doubting myself and my capabilities, and wondering if I really want it. I strongly feel that teaching and writing is my calling (resonating again!), and I kinda see how a PhD would give me more clout. But is it worth the intense effort? According to my research on the subject, the reason to pursue a PhD would be to prove my research ability. I'm struggling with this part the most, and so I am seriously considering defending my work as a Master's thesis and getting the heck outta here.

I am not regretting the fact that I am where I am right now. I'm pretty sure I needed to experience the difficulty of doing research in my field, and the fact that I'm not thriving, in order to decide not to go all the way. I knew at some point I'd need to decide, because in order to go for the PhD you really need to want it. It's not something that can be achieved half-assedly.

So, if you decide to go for it, go for it with all the "gung ho" you can muster. Immerse yourself in it, especially the part where you get to interact with others in your field. And keep in mind that all the doubting and worrying and struggling is perfectly normal, even for people who do eventually get their PhD.

(Please don't be discouraged by the fact that I am leaning towards not doing it. It's not for everyone; will it be for you? Only you can decide!)