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28 March 2011 @ 07:54 pm
...dear LJ, I am already a paid member on auto-payment, why are you advertising to me about a free two-week trial of LJ paid? ♥ c__c, member since 2003...

And onto my meeting:

  • He was late, which was relieving. Let me into the room and whinged about all the new people on campus loading themselves onto coaches and generally strolling around. Admired his whinging skills ("Honestly, come break we get rid of you lot and now we've got coaches! I suppose I shouldn't complain, since they help fund us...but I will anyway").
  • Just a few corrections and suggestions on my draft. He let me keep the papers and all so I can get through reading all of them before summer term, just out of interest. (I guess he knows he's landed a geek.)
  • He was really intent on dangling the PhD in front of me. He mentioned not giving this project to next year's students so he could really read and think about what Claire and I give in. Then he mentioned PhD and future projects again.
  • He asked where I was going after uni and I reported heading home to the States (and how much I dread the packing/shipping). He inquired if I was 'done' with England, almost sadly. I replied that regrettably, yes I am - it's ridiculously expensive and I miss Stateside living. He asked what I was doing after university. I told him I hated to admit it, but something with less brain power that wouldn't drive me into the ground like this, perhaps further education in the future; I hated to see the flash of surprise and disappointment on his face in the less-than-a-second before it was controlled. I hate hate hate seeing that, always, and I've been seeing it rather often with this last year. He mentioned my potential for a PhD, working in the sociology of science the way much of my project has. I shivered at the thought. He seemed so intent; I felt a little ill. I always feel as though I'm not living up to my potential.
  • He asked me if I really understood that I had potential with this and skills in this area. I told him I don't now, but hope to in the future. He seemed saddened by the thought of having a student with little self-esteem regarding academic skills. He told me he thought it was important for students leaving university to understand what they were good at, where there skills lay - he told me I excelled at analysing what people were doing, why they were doing it, organising the results and articulating them. I tried to take it in. I think it will be tricky, as a large part of me still views myself as a suburban American farmer student who only does well in school because her leg stopped working on her.
  • Discussed my exam schedule and how I'm displeased with it. He laughed and remarked, "Well, I won't say it all, but...it'll be okay." I smiled to know that he understood 'saying it all' doesn't always work with neurotic students like I am.
  • Told him it was Claire's birthday, and should I send along some birthday wishes from him? He very enthusiastically agreed. We laughed and parted ways.

Not too painful, then, at least regarding my actual dissertation. Just pained my regular old fears of not living up to others' expectations.

I allowed myself a few tears on Friendship Bridge while watching the ducks. I thought about how once people expected I would be an actress ("you have a rubber face!") or a writer ("that story simply got to me!") or a minister ("your sermon was fantastic! Such a well-spoken young woman!"). Over the years it evolved into 'academic', projecting a path of yellow-bricked academic roads and "Doctor St-----". I created my own path to fit the expectations (vocational high school instead of academic high school; English university instead of American) but I can't help the feeling that I am done for a while. I can't take it any more. I still want to learn, oh endlessly do I want to learn! Institutionalised learning...not so much. I need a break. I don't want to jump right into a 'career' with a promotional ladder, either.

I've given up a lot of living to stay on this path to the standard I deem appropriate for myself. I want to go do some living, make some mistakes, learn a new way. Somehow knowing that doesn't make the pain any less when I see the surprised-and-disappointed microexpression flash over features I've come to respect at levels beyond what I should probably offer. I don't want to disappoint anyone. I just don't want to do this any more. I can't see myself as cut out for someone with Doctor as a prefix. Still, just a few tears on the bridge and I felt better.

I walked and thought about what I had set out to gain from university. I realised that I wanted to get "science glasses" to add to my collection - a perspective or point of view that I could slip on when viewing thins. "Literary" or "writer's glasses" always came pretty naturally to me with my imagination and tendency toward observation. I love being able to look at the same pond filled with birds and plants with my "writer's glasses" as metaphors and an array of details that make up the setting followed by my "science glasses" that identify birds and plants in an umbrella of taxonomy and consider the animal behaviour behind each bob of a feathered head. I love feeling them merge behind my eyes, toying around in my brain to create a unique perspective of lay science. I feel my time at university has developed my "science glasses" to the point that I am pleased with them.

It reminded me that I need to leave this experience with a sense of accomplishment, as I did accomplish what I set out to, and not allow that to be diminished by the fact that I may not have trekked as far down the path as some would have liked.

I'm going to miss Nick and miss teachers. I can't imagine a life without teachers. I mean, I know there will be teachers around me - I have many teachers within many of my communities of friends and support - but not having my own personal teachers (not that I own them) will be odd. Since I was 3 I have always had an answer to, "Who is your teacher?" Suddenly I won't have one. "Who is your teacher?" "Myself. My job. My friends. My community. The universe. Children. Age. My breath." No "Ms. Watson" or "Mr. Dufault" or "Mrs. Cavanagh" or "Nick" or "that crazy Mark Fellowes". So strange. I suppose it's just another one of those things I'll get used to.

Ah, well, more rambles form me. You all are saints for putting up with it!


Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
[Rachel Carson]
Current Mood: contemplativeContemplative.
katie.: lost; mourning_untilforever on March 28th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
I relate to this post so much! I want to keep learning, I don't want to stop learning...but I can't take anymore. I can't take anymore deadlines and work and crazy crazy pressure, but I don't want to go out and set foot on a career ladder just yet. What to do?!
Kiwi Crocus: Seasonal || Magnolia x soulangiana.cranky__crocus on March 28th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Exactly - institutional learning I just can't stomach any more, not for a long while! And jumping straight into a career feels like diving straight into another institution when I haven't had a break from them since I was 3, save summer holidays, which were often about preparing for the next institutional year...especially the last few.

I think I'm going to just embrace my hippie roots and go grass-roots for a while with a "let it be" attitude. Hopefully I'll get the job to work at my favourite hippie camp this summer; maybe something more will come from that, even if it's just the opportunity to work at a Harry Potter summer camp for kids in New Orleans the summer after this one. Maybe something won't. I'd like to move to Providence, RI to live with my friends - perhaps I'll get a job at the crêperie or maybe I'll have to struggle for a while.

I just hope that whatever I'm doing or not doing, the 'let it be' or 'que sera, sera' attitude will let me be at peace with it - and thus be happy. I'm just looking for some serenity at the moment.

I read your last few entries and also got the 'asldkfjlasdf I so understand!' feeling. *Shakes fists at dissertation.*
Veevenomebat on March 28th, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)

Oh Kiwi I adore you because I feel like I can alway understand where you are coming from even though I haven't lived in an experience like yours. I know exactly what it feels like to not want to disappoint people, especially ones you respect.

I miss and love you very much and even though my opinion means little I think you deserve a break, we all need rest before we can move forward!

Kiwi Crocus: Rainbow || Crazycakes candy.cranky__crocus on March 28th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad, love! ♥ And I think in many ways you've lived through experiences quite like mine, or at least I trust we can often take similar things from different experiences. It seems that's often how this 'relating' thing gets on! :D

I miss you and love you very much too. But your opinion doesn't mean little, I'm afraid - your opinion means a lot! You're one of those loved and respected people I have pulled through all the walls in my heart (or, more accurately, has hurtled them all) and now your opinion is near and dear. It means so much to me that you think I deserve a break too, that it isn't just all another game in my head. (:

I hope we can spend some of our time of rest together when I'm Stateside again! Especially if I end up living in Providence! (:D :D :D)
Veevenomebat on March 29th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
I'm very excited to hear you will be stateside again! And potentially in Providence?! No matter where you end up residing we will make contact though! I shall have a dwelling of my own in the near future so you are always welcome to come stay with me if your dwelling is too much of a trek to make multiple times in one day.
Kiwi Crocus: Kiwi || Kiwi smile.cranky__crocus on March 31st, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Yesss, a Stateside Kiwi again! I'm excited too. (: And yup! A number of my good friends are living in one house in Providence and they have a little closet of a room (think Harry Potter's room under the stairs but a bit bigger) that I'm kind of in love with. And they want me to live there. And I want to live there. So hopefully it will work out!

We will definitely make contact! When/where are you getting this dwelling of your own? That's super exciting! :D I will definitely be willing to come stay with you for a while - I love sofa surfing. :Þ
Vee: witchvenomebat on April 1st, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
It will be one city over from Providence and I should be moving into my dwelling a little over a month from now.

I won't lie - most of it will probably be used as studio space, but I will definitely have a couch with your name on it! <3
Kiwi Crocus: Lesbians || Grass-root upbringing.cranky__crocus on April 2nd, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
Oh, that sounds darling! And a dwelling that's mostly studio space sounds like perfection. (: I would be honoured to sofa-surf there! I can't wait to hang out with you and get to know you on a more real-life basis, as you mentioned. I can't believe I've only technically met you once, and back when I was 16 and everything was ridiculously over-the-top dramatic!
Vee: batmanvenomebat on April 2nd, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
It was such a long time ago!
I'm very excited to spend time and get to know you better and have tea parties and the such! I don't have many friends that take solace in the little things like a good cup of tea. It will be wonderful to share those little things with someone.

I've been so excited about your return to the states that my dear behemoth of a boyfriend (Jeff) has become very excited/interested to meet you =D
(Normally he's a little shy, so I invited him to one of our inevitable tea parties!)
Kiwi Crocus: Readwrite || Tea + Book OTPcranky__crocus on April 2nd, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
I don't have enough friends who like dressing silly/cute and doing silly/strange things! So I'm thrilled at more opportunities to do so. (:

Awwr, brilliant, I'm glad your significant otter is pleased to come along! He is always welcome at a tea party - I hold the firm belief that tea parties should be the most inclusive and all-embracing of events. Does he like wearing silly hats? If not, I can just wear two for the both of us.
Veevenomebat on April 2nd, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
He is the king of silly hats! He has multiple pickelhaube - those silly German helmets with the points on top. They're his favorite.
He also has a German Crusher Cap, and a traditional Top Hat (not a Mad Hatter, though he wants one badly)
Kiwi Crocus: Text || H&M || Squee!cranky__crocus on April 2nd, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Yippee!! :D Now I'm super excited to meet him and his silly hats, too! Perhaps we will have to bring multiple hats and change them every half-hour. (: (He should definitely get a Mad Hatter top hat, too!)
Veevenomebat on April 3rd, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
He truly wants a mad hatter, they're just silly expensive and he doesn't have enough of that strange green paper stuff >.>
lash_larue: Nolash_larue on March 28th, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC)
NO ONE has a right to expect anything of you, much less be disappointed in you. Scroom. Nothing is more self-destructive than trying to live up to someone else's expectations. It is, quite simply, a losing proposition. Period.

"Potential" is a meaningless word. Everyone's 'potential' is limitless.

And you can't help but learn in the future, regardless of what you do.

In the words of the late Rick Nelson, "You can't please - everyone, so you got to please yourself."

Kiwi Crocus: HP || Hermione || Reading.cranky__crocus on March 28th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I think to some level I do agree with all of that, but then I know I can't help that inside myself I also hold expectations for others and consider their potentials. Not in a negative way and usually not with disappointment - but in a 'how can I help this person succeed?' I always strive to have the definition of that 'success' be through the eyes of the person I am contemplating, rather than through my own... but sometimes, I will admit that I can be disappointed when a person could be capable of so much - and freely admits it - but lets so much (usually from the person's own mind) get in the way.

I guess the key difference is the amount of judgement latent in the expectations and acknowledgement of 'potential'; and regrettably some of it seems to be knee-jerk (as with those microexpressions of surprise and disappointment). A lot of it is to do with a limited idea of what success and use of potential is - which I generally try not to hold against a person as it's usually the way we are raised/trained.

I feel like to a certain degree, it's okay for me to strive to meet expectations, especially when so many of them align with my own. The 'certain degree' distinction is when following them or not following them is to my own detriment, as it has been here, when I feel guilty for not following the expectations. But when it's all successful and I am meeting my own expectations as well as the expectations of those around me, there's this shared joy. (I suppose it can also be there in the absence of expectations, but since they seem so inherent, it's difficult to imagine...)

I wish I could still think of my 'potential' as limitless, but I have come across many of its limits - and I am okay with that. I am not going to become Queen of the Track with marathons; I am not going to become a Nobel Prize laureate for genetic plant development. I may someday make an excellent teacher or minister, or perhaps write a book or two. I'm at peace with the breadth of my potential - and I acknowledge that it perhaps goes further than I am willing to go, in regards to PhDs and the like...even if others would wish me to go there.

I guess it's the difference between expecting a balloon to rise and being disappointed when it doesn't and expecting a balloon to rise but delighting when it does the opposite - and going on to consider 'perhaps someone blew it up or it's full of water!' At the moment I feel a lot of people are in the former category when it comes to my choices, but I may just be projecting my own insecurities. Perhaps a greater number of people are in the latter category, wondering what I'm made of (probably rainbows) to not follow the path they expected or desired for me.

And maybe I'm just being silly. We know me. I tend to be silly about things.

ETA: I absolutely didn't mean this to debate your comment or ideas; I think they are merited and very positive. I like them a lot. Mainly I appreciate the contribution of them in allowing me to figure out my mind with all of this. (: Thank you!

Edited at 2011-03-28 07:59 pm (UTC)
lash_laruelash_larue on March 28th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)
Potential is limitless in the sense that there is always something else you can do, not that you can do everything. Of course you can't. I cannot do what I long to do above all else, it is quite simply impossible. But I can do many other things.

People tend to box themselves in, or BE boxed in. People also tend to fall into the trap of equating success with money. Charlie Sheen is rich, and he is a waste of skin. (I doubt he'll be rich very long either)

You are on the right path for you. Nobody else counts in this regard. I do understand that it feels good to meet expectations, especially of those that you care for.

Other people's expectations tend to be what they think they would like to see you do. Nope. Invalid argument.

I'll back off now, this subject touches a lot of nerves, I have spent four decades listening to what I could have done, and I wish better for you.
Kiwi Crocus: Text || Post has a porpoise.cranky__crocus on March 28th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see what you mean there, and yes I completely agree with that. I cannot do everything (or 'anything'), but there is always something else I can do - something else I can and may want to do. I like that.

Yes, that success = money is so prevalent these days; it's certainly not my definition. I doubt I'll ever have much money, but I think I will probably be successful by my own definition. (Mine seems to be pretty simple: "Are you happy? Successful you!")

I feel I am lucky in that often times other people's expectations of me tend to be what they think would make me happiest. (When I think 'people', my family and friends and UU congregation come to mind.) I think beyond thinking that I possess the skills/personality/drive/whatever else to perform things like higher academic research, ministry work or teaching these lovely people of mine tend to think these would make me happy. And, actually, I don't think they're wrong in the end - but perhaps they would not make me happy now (no, I don't think they would).

And what commenting back and forth with you has allowed me to realise is that's okay. It's okay for them to wish for what's best for me (even if it is all wrapped up in 'expectations' and 'potential' since that is the language we have been trained to speak) and it's okay for me to not follow what their wishes suggest, and instead follow my heart.

Because in the end what most of them really want me to do is follow my heart. And I think, if I polled most people I know, the majority would say some variant of "follow your heart" or "to thine own heart be true". That's valuable to know.

Thank you for that!
lash_laruelash_larue on March 28th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the greatest line in english literature is, no surprise, from Shakespeare... (might not be exact, I'm old)

"This above all, to thine ownself be true. For shall shall follow as the night the dawn thou canst then be false to no man."

We owe our fellow beings our consideration and support. We do not owe them our lives. You do have time, and you'll be fine.
Kiwi Crocus: Text || Be alright.cranky__crocus on March 28th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes, that's the ticket. I remember both Mrs. Osborne (my 8th-grade English teacher) and Ms. Watson (my high school botany teacher) had that quote up on their walls. I admired them both. Ms. Watson once pointed at it and told me it was the most important thing, and to not let anything get in the way of that.

Owing our fellow beings our consideration but not our lives... I like that! Perfectly settles the mess that's been sloshing around my head.

You're the best, Lash! ♥
Hopelessly Prosaicncp on March 28th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if this is going to be helpful or not, but... that feeling doesn't really go away. I remember being your age and looking ahead to 34 or 35 and thinking "I'll have everything figured out y then). I'm 34 now, and a wife and a mother, and still trying to figure out where I fit into the world.

It's called "life", and part of living life is knowing that you'll never figure it all out, but as long as you're trying, you'll be fine.
Kiwi Crocus: Text || Refuse to take life seriously.cranky__crocus on March 28th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Fear not, your words are helpful - they imply that I have plenty of time to adapt to this. (:

Thankfully I'm not looking for a "figuring it out" feeling; I don't think I'll ever do that. Adapting to the little bits - the ideas of 'potential' and 'expectation' - I feel is doable, at least in this small manner (related to university).

I'm afraid I'm not trying to figure out life (in a literal sense), but hopefully I will be fine anyway. I'm endeavouring to figure my in-the-moment self out and I often succeed; beyond that I'm just working to live in a way that will bring me the most sense of alignment with that inner self, which is what makes me happy. (It usually has to do with helping others.)

Thank you for the input! ♥
kellychamblisskellychambliss on March 28th, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC)
Letting go of academics is hard, when that's all one has known. Especially if you've done well at it. It feels safe.

But if your instinct is telling you to back off from higher ed, then listen. Do something else if you want. If later you decide to come back to school, you always can. No choice you make has to be permanent. My partner decided to return for another master's degree after 20 years out of school.

Any decision you make now about your future is reversible. Let yourself off the hook.
Kiwi Crocus: Text || No place like home.cranky__crocus on March 31st, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Letting go of academics is hard, when that's all one has known. Especially if you've done well at it. It feels safe.
Thank you for that reminder. And for the others!

I think a lot of these rambles is based on my wanting to work through this. A lot of my friends are shrugging it off or denying graduation at all, another thing to shove behind exams. I can't help but think it's all suddenly going to smack them in the face - I've certainly had that happen often enough. I'm trying to work through this and my feelings slowly, bit by bit, so I can untangle most of them before I get there and just have the final letting go to do. I know it's going to be a Big Goodbye for me since I'm leaving a) the academic environment I've been in since before memory; b) my particular university; and c) the country that has been my home for the last three years. Hopefully getting a head-start on those 'goodbye' feelings will help!

Although I am sorry that you have to hear it all from me as well as your own students. :Þ (But I tend to imagine you in career-talk!Minerva meetings with students expressing many of these sentiments, which may or may not be true haha.)

Let yourself off the hook.
I have historically not been very good at that. But I will try, thank you!

And thank you in general for this comment!
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Kiwi Crocus: Monty Python || Science!cranky__crocus on March 31st, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
I guess what hurts the most in this is that I'm not fed up with uni - in that I don't feel wholly finished and there's still so much I love about it; I'm just exhausted. So I feel as though I sort of have to leave even though I may or may not be done. Which I suppose is fine since, as you and Kelly have mentioned, I can always go back. Or back to academia at least, if not Uni. Reading.

*Grins.* I'd love to know a Dr. Teskey! (Erm, I mean Dr. Tetley, of course... but surely being a Doctor in Pesky could also come in handy. (; ).

Never too late. Don't need to fulfill expectations. Got it! I'll keep those in mind for any future test. (:
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Kiwi Crocus: Lesbians || Bench sitting.cranky__crocus on March 31st, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
I think I will do it like 'this old bat' and do something entirely different if I go back. (: I sort of followed this path with the original idea of working out in the field - surveying species, tracking radio collar signals, what have you. Now I realise that is very much not possible for me - my hip couldn't even put up with uni field trips. But I'm okay with that in the end! I'll find something that works for me, I'm sure.

I keep remembering my trips through the Humanities building during my last term this year - "English Literature and Language" on all the office tags and all these bulletin boards filled with Women's Studies and Gender Studies and all this amazing stuff. I was so tempted to throw myself into it again, but I wouldn't know where to start with any of that; it's always just been something I'm passionate about in life. Maybe someday. (: But it's a relief to not think about it for the moment! (Just dream a little.)

Thanks, Teskey - I'm grateful for your words of wisdom!
CaroRulescarorules on March 29th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
It's normal to wanna be done with school for a while. This can be so draining and real life is fun too ;)