Christmas break is nearing, and I am a week and a half away from finishing my first semester at graduate school.
Well. To be more accurate, I am a week and a half away from finishing my only semester at this graduate school.
I can’t make this pretty, wrap it up in bible verses and poetry, because it’s not pretty and I am breaking with this and people I love are broken by this and there is nothing I can do about it.
I’ve decided to leave Western, and not finish my degree here. Not even finish my first year. I don’t know if this is a good decision or not, but it is a decision and that’s progress. There are several reasons for this, all of which I am happy to talk about in more detail with anyone who would like to know. In short, the reasons are as follows:
- I don’t need this degree for my career aspirations (such as they are), and I can’t find a way to make the amount of mental, spiritual, and emotional stress and anxiety I go through on a weekly basis here worth it.
- I disagree with some of the ways teaching and learning are approached here, and that is unsettling and discouraging. I think in this respect, Hope College set me too high a standard, that no other school will ever reach…
- The Medieval Institute is going through several changes, which means it is in an in-between (or liminal, which is a new-to-me word that my Medieval Performance class greatly enjoys and which I shall adopt because it makes me feel smart) phase of its life. These changes make things hard for students, and I am not devoted enough to the program to want to see it through them, even though I know they will ultimately be good.
- I want to join, as they say, the “real world.” I know that professional upper-academia is not on the list of things I want to do with my life, and student life, which is one giant liminality in itself, is beginning to wear on me. I want roots, stability, and a cat.
- There is no time and space for, or acceptance of, art or creativity here. I didn’t realize just how much I need these things in my life until I had them all but taken away.
It seems most responsible for me to back out now, instead of making the Institute pay for another semester of my tuition when I’m not planning on finishing the program.
This decision has been, and will continue to be, very hard for very many reasons. I hope that in a few years, once I am somewhat more settled, have a steady job, and am on the way to paying off my undergrad loans, I might be able to enroll in Signum University, and go through their program to earn a certificate or an MA in Language and Literature. I would like that. That is enough of academia for me.
That said, all you kind, beautiful, supportive people who read my blog, I would appreciate any prayers, positive vibes, and/or kittens you care to send. This isn’t easy. This is the furthest thing from easy I can imagine. I have spent this week in some less-bad level of Dante’s hell, and this decision is tearing apart some of the people I care about most in the world. I think I have finally reached the limit of Number Of Tears One Can Cry Over A Thing, which is probably for the best, but getting up the nerve to sign the paperwork to decline my assistantship for next semester took me a long time, and I still have to face my Director and my boss, and the other students of the Institute, many of whom I know will do their well-meaning utmost to convince me to change my mind.
So–what am I going to do now? For starters, I’m going back to Vermont. I will be getting some job somewhere and doing work at home that I have absolutely no doubt is deeply good. I would like to stay in Vermont for one more full year, if I can, just to see it all again. And after that, I have no idea. There’s a certain place in Ohio that has a few draws. There’s a theater in Pennsylvania that puts on musical bible stories. There’s Holland, which I still love very much. There’s a Refuge in Georgia for Christians who dance (good golly, Georgia?). There’s The Potter’s School, which I still fondly desire to return to as a teacher. And there’s Vermont, which will always be there, and will always be beautiful. There are a lot of things I can do. I don’t know what’s next. For now, I’m just going home.
(Parents: For Christmas I’m going to get you a boomerang with my name on it. Sorry. You guys are the best people in the whole wide world and when you come to get me, beams of light will descend from heaven and choirs of angels will be singing the Hallelujah Chorus.)