Saturday, August 20, 2011

Adventures in Grad Studenting: Life Sucks Sometimes, But Perhaps That’s a Not Such a Bad Thing.

So I wrote this four months ago and completely forgot to post it, so here is my entry, in all of its magnificent glory
6 May 2011
 I’m feeling quite demoralized today, and I’m having a bit of a pity party. And all I really want to do right now is order a pity pizza, drink real Coke, and watch multiple episodes of Murder, She Wrote.

Today was our First Year Composition yearly end of semester meeting. And it did start off pretty well: I won a best practices award today for my teaching for the third year in a row (yay me! And another line for the CV). But the meeting quickly made its way to disappointing territory when we began to discuss next year’s curriculum. I have absolutely no complaints about the curriculum—I understand its purpose, it’s well thought out, well written, it will be incredibly beneficial to students, and it will most certainly make my life easier while I’m trying to finish my dissertation. I’ll be happy to use it in the fall. Really. I mean it. (And my words are sincere. There’s absolutely no sarcasm here).

I just feel that this curriculum is further evidence that my freedom to create assignments and assignment sequences is being taken away bit by bit every year, and this feels a little demoralizing. I’m incredibly passionate about my teaching, and I truly love where I teach. It’s the whole reason I went to grad school in the first place. And I put so much hard work and effort into creating my classes, assignments, and lessons. Learning how to do all of that has made me a better instructor.

Perhaps this evidence I just need to finish up my dissertation, graduate, and move on. But even that’s kind of sad. I love where I teach; my colleagues and bosses are wonderful, and what they’re wanting us to teach and their rationale behind it is solid stuff. Things can’t and shouldn’t stay the same forever, nor would I want them to. I guess I’m just a little sad about the change and maybe this is evidence that I’m really just scared about actually finishing and leaving the relative safe world of grad school.

So I left school this afternoon feeling a bit on the irked side and the demoralization just dug its way deeper into my psyche after I got home. A few weeks ago one of my committee members nominated me for our department’s yearly academic excellence award (yay her!) And then I learned that I didn’t win the award. Logical me says that it was an honor to be nominated for the award in the first place and that my submission for the award was really strong. But then emotional me creeps in with her disappointment and questions the quality of my submission, which was the prospectus for my dissertation—the project over which I’ll be spending the next couple of years sweating blood and tears. But logical me is jumping back in. Because you know what?  My prospectus IS good. And even though the free food at the banquet would have been cool, and the award plaque would have been cooler and the award money would have been the coolest, in the end none of that matters. These disappointments, these are right now. My dissertation is what I need to get my PhD, and I’ve been dreaming of this PhD since I was 19. That PhD is my future and teaching English is more than just my chosen career path, it’s my vocation. And I am determined to make all of this help me into being a better instructor and a better scholar. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

This is the nice thing about writing/blogging on my feelings about all of this. I gave myself a pep talk and you all (if there are any you all out there) get to read it and (perhaps) feel pepped up yourselves. I do actually feel better now and less demoralized.

But I’m still going to drink my Coke, order my pity pizza and watch Murder, She Wrote. And one more (completely unrelated) thing: my cat is grooming the couch. I have no idea why, but it’s just kind of funny.