Tuesday, November 1, 2011

academic growing pains

It's been awhile since I've written anything on here, I know. It's not because things haven't been happening, but because I can't think of too many different ways to say, "This semester is really difficult and I want it to be over." Especially ways that don't sound like bitterness and whining.

While I couldn't have imagined saying it even last year, I am tired of coursework. Syllabi no longer excite me as they did for so many semesters of my academic life. Rather than possibility, they've come to represent long lists of obligations, imposed by someone else, that will require me to expend energy in multiple directions instead of settling down to one or two big tasks. This semester I'm learning that not every professor understands what realistic demands look like. Others are more merciful, actually suspending class for a month so that you can devote the additional hours to producing a publishable paper. For the latter type, I'm quite grateful. Either way, I am looking forward to being out from under such direct guidance.

I also look forward to not having to show up for seminars each week. Nothing else drains me quite like struggling to articulate things to contribute to discussion, fighting for opportunities to actually say them, and then the letdown when I haven't been well understood. Sometimes the atmosphere is truly collegial, and I have gotten better at navigating these things, but often it's a pain, with more anxiety poured into it than turns out to have been remotely worth it. I also find myself disagreeing with one or two of my professors more than usual, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but produces its own form of angst that I haven't enjoyed putting up with on a weekly basis.

I'm not as unhappy as this probably makes it sound. (Though I do have at least one meltdown each week. Especially Sundays; Sundays are bad.) I'm just coming to the realization that I have to write approximately 60 pages in a little more than a month, which would feel impossible enough if two of my classes weren't asking for additional work in the meantime. And it's not the writing I dread; it's figuring out what any of these papers are actually about that's the hard part. Not to mention reading 20+ books by April, well enough that I can pass an examination on them, so that I can be officially liberated from the coursework phase of my program. But I probably won't have the luxury of panicking about that until Christmas break...


  1. I tend to melt down on Sundays as well. I'll pray for you next time I feel the Sunday anxiety come on...

  2. I will do the same! I'm glad I'm not alone. I hate it, but the anxiety inevitably seems to hit as soon as I get home from church!