Monday, January 13, 2014

What the Hell am I doing? (WTHAID)

2 weeks into the new year and I'm already having one of those 'what the hell am I doing?' crises. It's not unexpected; part of the second year curriculum in my Ph.D. program is something called the prelim exam. This test is a month-and-a-half oddesy into hell, where you must come up with two ideas for grants (that are not allowed to be closely related to the work you yourself will be doing for your thesis), one of which is selected based on the 5 page abstracts you submit, and 7 weeks later you turn in a 20 page grant and defend it in a room full of 4-5 faculty members. Best part of this test is if you fail, you're out of the program; you get a master's as a consolation prize though. So no pressure, right?

Fortunately we get to select the time at which we undergo this mental and emotional torture. Unfortunately, my decision came down to sacrificing February skiing or late March, early April skiing. Since March tends to rock I had to pick an early time, and that's why my abstracts are due Monday. Coming back from Christmas and being weeks away from having to turn in my ideas is stressful and nerve-wracking, but apparently not enough to make me get my act together and write, which is why it's the Monday before they're due and I'm in the library. . . and obviously not currently working since I'm writing this. 

But as for the crisis; I think everyone occasionally hits a point where things are hard, or they're not having fun, or this aren't working exactly according to the plans they laid out in their heads, and that's when they kind of stop and wonder 'why?' As in 'why am I doing this?' or 'is this what I want o be doing?' or something else. Especially when I'm living in one of the coolest US ski cities ever, and am stuck off the hill trying to work while it's dumping; that'll make any true ski bum question all life decisions that keeps them from skiing. And when it's something as awful as prelims. . . well I think you get the picture. Suffice it to say that a plan was formulated at a party on Saturday where I'd become a 'dancer' in ND; obviously a boob job was part of this plan, and trust me it would be a lucrative one. Side note: this is why people shouldn't drink and plan. 

After sobering up that plan has since been abandoned (or at least shifted back to plan C), and I'm finally working on prelims like I should've been awhile back. I think it's important to go through those WTHAID (worst/;east fun acronym ever) moments, because when you decide to continue on the path you're on, it means a lot more. It means that you continue to choose A over all the rest of the letters in the alphabet (variables from math, if you get my terrible analogy or whatever; words are hard okay?) and that should be some comfort when the next hard time comes around. It also means that instead of stubbornly sticking to a decision you made days/weeks/months/years ago, you're constantly evaluating what's best for you.

So I'm coming out of this WTHAID moment with this: I need to pass because how else am I going to afford to pursue my steeper side without becoming a stripper? It's good enough for me. 

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