*Insert existential angst here, because I'm boring myself at this point* One of the weird but in retrospect obvious aspects of pursuing an advanced degree is that there are a multitude of hurdles that you must overcome. First you have to get into undergrad. Then you have to score well on the GRE. Next is the graduate school search and admission process (pro tip, do not base your search on admission rates or how pretty the campus is. Dream big, Little Pig!). Once you're in graduate school, you have to pass practicum, write a thesis, and pass comps. If you're super masochistic, you choose the one faculty adviser with a previous career as an editor, so you actually get to write about seventy million thesises (thesi?) That gets you a Masters and allows you to promote to the Doctoral Program. Once there, you've got to write and defend your dissertation (with the same editor/advisor/mentor), score an internship, possibly move across the country, and try to get published somewhere along the way. Complete your internship without dying and now you're a doctor (but not that kind of doctor)! But wait! There's more!
Now you need a grown-up job. Get the job. Move across the country again. Try to act like a professional adult when less than two weeks ago you were "just the intern." Get your 1500 hours of supervised, post-doctoral experience. Neurotically tally those hours in 15 minute increments. Once you've done that, now you apply to take the first licensing exam. Study for that for anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months (depending on how new your newborn is.) Hopefully pass that test, despite it having words you've literally never seen before on it. Now you get to study for and sit for the state specific laws and ethics exam. Study for that for anywhere between 1 week and 3 months (again, depending on how old your baby is and how desperately you need the raise.) Pass that test. Then...
That's it. You're done. There are no more prescribed hurtles. You are a legit, grown-up, signing doctor. There is nothing left for you to do on your academic journey.
I personally found that moment overwhelming, so I try to prepare people for it. You go from YEARS of always having something you should be working on/studying for/stressing about to... not. For neurotic student type people, it's a huge shift. I always recommend that people take up a hobby or set another goal for themselves. Personally, I moved, had babies, got dogs, bought houses, took up running, and made a lot of stuff. Each of these things has given me a goal, a task, something to obsess about and to accomplish.
Lately I've been feeling the twitch that often precedes a baby, a move, or a new obsessive hobby but I'm also somewhat at a loss for what I want to do. Learn Spanish? Train the HellBeasts? Volunteer with a local agency? Take up decoupage? Become the most overextended Scout mom in history? All of the options floating around are simultaneously exhilirating and overwhelming.
At the other end of the spectrum from Dream Big, Little Pig is a book that I was gifted called The Circle Maker. The section I've been reading (and re-reading, and re-re-reading) is about setting goals and making them big. With those two books in mind, I've been thinking a lot about what it is that I want to accomplish and where I want to focus my energy. It's a work in progress, but what I've come up with so far is:
- I want to write more. I feel like I used to be a much better writer and I know that my writing has suffered from neglect. (Gah! I just went through my archives. Faithful readers, thank you! I used to be so much funnier! I promise, I'll up my game.) I want to grow this blog, or develop a second blog, that encompasses both my personal and professional ramblings. I also want to look for opportunities to publish elsewhere.
- I want to plan a real, legit vacation. Next year all three of our kids are going to Grandkid's Camp, which means that C and I can take an honest-to-goodness vacation together. Maybe even on an airplane! There's a whole other post there, seeing as the only trips we've ever been on alone (including our honeymoon) have involved tents or sleeping in dorm rooms.
- I want to start exercising again, but not for the sole purpose of getting skinnier (because I've come to accept that that's not happening.) I want to be stronger though, because one of the best descriptors of the women in my family is "They can lift heavy shit." And I'd like to lift heavier shit. I'd also like to look good walking away, if you catch my drift.
- Be outside more. I've accepted that I can't/shouldn't garden and it's really, really hot here, but there are so many opportunities to be outside and I waste a lot of them. I'm starting with walking the dogs more, which will also serve the goal of training the HellBeasts.
- I want to stop being so fucking angsty. There is a lot of good in my life. I have a great family, a decent house, a good paying job with great people and the potential to (insert flutes here) "Make a difference in the world." I really need to get off my pity pot.
I'm posting these for two reasons. The first is that we all know that if you put it on the internet, it becomes real. I need the accountability of having strangers know that I've set goals (it makes sense in my head, don't ruin the dream.) The second is that I want to keep these in the foreground. I want to make intentional choices and to allow myself to "Dream Big, Little Pig." Maybe writing more will turn into a goal of writing a book. Maybe exercising more will turn into competing in Crossfit. Maybe I'll learn Spanish and plan a vacation to Puerto Vallarta. I honestly don't know yet. But I'm kind of excited to find out!
|OMG! I was looking for a rando picture because a post this long deserves a picture and look what I found! Kismet!|
Please enjoy this picture of my favorite Animal Researcher dreaming with her pig :)