Thursday, February 1, 2007

Future Plans

In the last few days I've managed to clarify exactly what it is I'm going to do once I finish my MA this term. To many this will come as a surprise since its been assumed I would continue into a PhD program and end up on a university faculty somewhere. I have, however, had some second thoughts about that path and have made some pretty major adjustments.

Originally I had planned to take a few years off from school between my MA and PhD. Primarily this was to make it easier for my (now former) fiance to finish her BA, but it was also to give me a break from the stress of grad school. During the summer my Ex was pushing me to go straight into my PhD, saying that she didn't want me to put it off because of her, and when she left me in December it was just assumed that that is what I would do. There was only one flaw in this plan: I'm getting VERY burned out. I've been feeling this way since Spring 06, but put it off to a number of other (personal) factors. However, since the feeling has not subsided, I can not ignore it anymore. I've been putting off applying to PhD programs and have actively dreaded having to continue with grad school right now. This is--obviously--not the right attitude to have when about to embark on a fairly intense PhD program (and all the ones I was considering are intense in one way or another). But once I decided not to do my PhD I had to decide what I would do instead. I chose to do what any weary traveler does: I'm going home.

Over the Winter Break I spent three weeks visiting family and friends back in Oregon. This was the first time I'd been home since July '01. The trip was great. I enjoyed being around my family again after so long, I reconnected with friends I hadn't seen in years and found myself very comfortable in the small town that I couldn't wait to leave over 15 years ago. No doubt influenced by the fact that I no longer have any strong attachments elsewhere, I found myself quite homesick upon my return to Gotham City. I began thinking of just taking a break from school and spending the next couple of years in Oregon teaching at a local college or university. But then I started thinking about what my goals were when I first went back to school in 1997. I had intended to teach high school history (or some other subject, I wasn't too picky). My desire to teach had been sparked by some of the great teachers I had had in High School. At the time I had been put off of this track because I found I had trouble dealing with kids of that age. This led to me changing tracks (several times) and ending up with the goal of teaching college levels instead. But that was a long time ago. I have changed enormously in the last few years and am wondering if I may now be more capable of fulfilling my original goals. I firmly believe that, while all teachers are important and influential, Middle and High School teachers have a better chance of positively influencing their students. Students of that age are at a crucial time in their life and they need all the help and guidance they can get. And though I have had many teachers in college that have changed me and the way I view the world I never would have met them had it not been for the influential teachers I had in High School.

So now my plan is to move back to Oregon this May, get myself established, find some sort of job (preferably teaching somewhere), get an apartment, et cetera. If need be I will substitute teach to begin with, but my goal is to do what I need to do to get certified to teach full time in Oregon and see if this is what I was meant to do. If its not, then those PhD programs will still be there. But I have at least one very close friend (who knows be better than I know myself at times) who is fairly convinced that I can and will excel in this undertaking (though she has some reservations as to whether I will "enjoy" it or not). Personally, I think it is a worthy enough goal that I have to at least try it.

I am firmly convinced that this is indeed the right choice to make, because since I have made this decision all my anxiety about the future has pretty much vanished (I'm sure it will return the moment I find myself trapped in a room full of hormonally imbalanced teenagers!)

Wish me luck!


Anonymous said...

"Applauds loudly"

Anonymous said...

PS.. I posted that comment.. this is Mel.

The background image on this page is a Hebrew translation of the verse from Bob Dylan's song  It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), from which the title of this blog is taken. Translation courtesy of Yoram Aharon of Hod-HaSharon's page--found via YudelLine-- which has many Dylan lyrics in Hebrew.