Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Doubting Lisa

I've spent more than a year researching graduate school programs, bouncing from idea to idea. Public Policy. Urban Planning. Library Sciences. Political Science. Writing. Journalism. Liberal Arts. Public Policy again. They all interested me, but none of them felt quite right. Then I stumbled across Anthropology, and I thought, "This is it! This is exactly the program that I want."

I've spent nearly six months researching graduate programs in Anthropology. I've visited Web sites, looked at rankings, Googled professors. I systematically narrowed the field to three schools: University of Texas, University of Wisconsin, and University of Kentucky.

I've spent the past four months applying to those three schools. I studied for the GREs. I hunted down professors and supervisors to beg for recommendations. I requested transcripts, filled in forms, and payed fees.

Now it's down the the final stretch. I've submitted one complete application. All I have left to do for the other two is to finish my personal statements.

And I'm starting to have major doubts.

I've had niggling little "but what abouts" all along. But what about writing? But what about my secret desire to be a librarian? But what about all the other things I'm interested in or have thought about doing? I put those aside, usually with a "I can always come back to that" or "I can try that later if I don't like this." Which are both sort of true.

Then, yesterday, the doubts came flooding in. I had a meeting with one of the professors in the anthropology department at UT. As I was preparing to talk with him, I realized that I know nothing about anthropology. Seriously. And as I was talking to him, I realized how unprepared I was to make this decision. I couldn't even have a thoughtful discussion with him. I didn't know what to ask or say. I have no idea what project I want to do.

Now I'm usually good at faking my way through discussions. I can talk about a book I've never read, a movie I've never seen, or a sport I don't even like. Go on. Ask me about Harry Potter or the Rose Bowl. So my sudden inability to come up with even a few intelligent questions worries me. Am I really doing the right thing? Yes, I'm interested in the issues of social anthropology, but do I really want to put myself in major debt to study it? Do I want to make a career of this? Am I making an informed decision or am I jumping into something out of desperation?

I don't want to flake out because of fear. But I also don't want to make the wrong decision just because I don't want to look like a flake. (I've already been there and done that with going to Malawi. Not that Malawi was a mistake, but going with the program that I did was a HUGE mistake.) And I can't stay in my current situation much longer.

Is this just pre-application jitters? Or is my gut telling me something?


At 10:49 AM , Blogger Liz said...

It sounds like you've never worked in the field before (?). Maybe that's where some of the doubt comes in... you can choose a profession based on your interests and passions, but how do you know you'll really like doing it every day? Or that it will be worth all the effort and $$$?

If it helps, I love my job and felt nothing but relief when I decided to go back to school again. But I still frequently think about all the other things I could be doing, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Could you postpone school for a while until you can figure out for sure what your gut is trying to say?? Good luck!

At 1:31 PM , Blogger Bearette24 said...

I second Liz, there is nothing wrong with postponing. I really wish I hadn't gone to law school. If you're not sure, take your time.

At 1:43 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

Well, I am sort of jumping the gun on all this worry. I won't even find out if I've been accepted anywhere until March.

I really need to find me a rich husband who will finance my continued education pursuits and leisurely days of reading.

At 1:46 PM , Blogger Bearette24 said...

Good call! As long as you love him ;)

At 10:16 AM , Blogger Frema said...

I think it sounds like your gut is trying to tell you something. You've talked a lot about studying majors, but maybe it'd be worth some time to study different professions. For example, what do you want to do with a degree in anthropology? You might be able to do the job with a different degree. Do some job shadowing. Interview people whose jobs you love. (You could interview Liz!) Get some career books.

I'm in the same boat as Liz. After getting my undergrad degree in English-Creative Writing, I went on to get a master's degree in Writing and do not regret it at all. However, I still toy around with the idea of teaching, so I may go back to school someday to get my license. I also love the idea of being a career counselor, but I'm not sure if I want to get a counseling degree. We'll see.

I think our generation is lucky in that we are not expected to spend 30 years in the same job, behind the same desk, waiting to collect our pension. We can skip around and experiment and find out where we fit. I wish you the best of luck.


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