Friday, December 21, 2012

It's not the end of the world

Today is an important day. Not because the world is ending (it isn't) but because I just withdrew from my postgraduate studies.

I have long wrestled with this decision. I started my PhD with the dream of becoming a lecturer in British and Australian Literature. I lectured and tutored during my studies and I loved it, teaching a subject you truly love is wonderful. Researching a subject that inflames your intellectual passions is wonderful. What isn't wonderful is the reality of being a paid academic. The huge amounts of paperwork, the constant pressure to bring money into the department, journal articles and conference papers which have to be produced in your own time, the very long working weeks and the discrepancy between hours worked (and compensated) and output expected. Put bluntly, the dream was just that and reality wasn't doing it for me.

 Letting go of a dream is hard. I feel a certain sense of shame and of failure if I think of my decision as "dropping out". But if I can reframe it as simply changing the dream then it becomes freeing, an opportunity for change. I wasn't enjoying it anymore so I stopped doing it. How radical!

As W. C. Fields once said: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.’

I do have a safety net with an option to return to my studies without penalty as long as I do it within two years. That's a possibility but 20 years is more likely. There's so much I want to do.

First up is to write more and perhaps to try and get something into in a non-academic publication. I want to learn, once and for all, to sew. I want to work (post maternity leave) in a marketing communications/PR role for QLD tourism or the museum or a charity I feel strongly about. I want to enjoy time with my midgets without feeling I "should" be studying. In short, I want to do more of what makes me happy.

The decision I just made will allow me to do (or at least to attempt) all of those things.

In replacing the "dream" with goals that are different, though equally meaningful, it feels a little bit adventurous - as though I'm sailing away from the safety of the harbour and into the big wide blue.

It's an important day, but it's not the end of the world.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a splendid New Year. I hope it's a time of love, laughter and happiness.


  1. If what you think your dream will be turns out not to be that dream then the dream has to change! I hope you'll dream a new dream and will reach out and grow into your new dream too. Often things aren't quite what we expect them to be. Merry Christmas Rachel xox

  2. Thank you Carol. I am excited by the possibilities! Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year xx