It seems that the closer I get to potentially graduating, the more mentally unstable I get. Some days I’d swear graduate school is nothing but an exercise in torture. Some days it feels like a bottomless pit, a deep, dark abyss that strips you of ever last ounce of hope, passion, and happiness. On those days, I’m pretty sure I’ve successfully surpassed my teen years of melodrama.
Most of this stems from being torn apart during a lab meeting last week. My boss invited one of my committee members to sit in, and the guy rode me the ENTIRE time. It was a constant barrage of ripping my project apart, piece by piece. I’ve adjusted to having this done during committee meetings. I’m actually okay, on most days, that I’ll always feel like a complete and utterly useless moron whenever I’m in front of my committee. It’ll always feel like being placed in front of a firing squad, sans the blindfold. But I’m okay with that. It doesn’t make my heart race. It doesn’t rattle me. And it doesn’t even make me doubt my intelligence… at least not too much. But having it done during a lab meeting, with the ENTIRE lab present, wasn’t something I was expecting. At least when I get ass raped during a committee meeting it’s in private. And I know I bring a lot of this on myself. I know that I reek of confidence when I give an oral presentation. It’s not something I can control. I sure as fuck don’t feel confident. Ever. But for whatever reason, I seem to hide that well. And that just seems to put a huge target on my back.
So I got ripped fifty ways ‘til next Tuesday. Again, this normally wouldn’t bother me that much, but I went into the meeting feeling like I was so close to being able to graduate. I felt like I’d done more than enough already. Spending the next two hours defending my project, listening to my project be ripped apart, and being told the thousand and one other things I need to do was just… disheartening. In that moment I completely understood why some people would opt to drop out despite being SO CLOSE to graduation. It just gets to the point of being unhealthy. Now I’m pretty sure I’m not at the point yet. I’m frustrated and disgusted, but I also have a mentor who is one of my biggest fans. It may have taken him four years to compliment me to my face, but he’s never deserted me when I needed him. And that will count for a lot when I go up against my committee next month hoping to get permission to start writing. I’m just hoping that, between the two of us, it’ll be enough.
And I’m not even certain where this sudden need to graduate came from. I’ve never been that guy, the one who was planning graduation from the word go. I never lusted after graduating in only a few years like most everyone does (though no one ever achieves). I’ve always thought that you can only grow and learn so much in a finite amount of time. Cutting that time short by cramming it into only a few years would be cheating myself. I always had the attitude that it’ll happen when it happens. I’m still unsure as to why, but that attitude changed drastically last month. All of a sudden graduating is all I can think about. It’s beyond something I want. It’s something I NEED.
It makes absolutely no sense. I already have a job waiting for me when I graduate. It’s not about the pay increase I’ll get once I’m a post-doc. I’m living comfortably on what I’m currently paid despite it being only a step above poverty wages. I’ve never really cared about the title, though it will be nice to have SOMETHING to show for five years of effort. But it’s not like I’ll look the part anytime soon. I still get mistaken for a college frat boy on a regular basis.
Yet, I still NEED for this to be finished. Even if it changes absolutely nothing.
I just don’t get it.