whenever i bump into someone i haven’t seen in a while, the conversation almost always starts the same way:
“you’re almost done, right?” they ask, in reference to my schooling.
“nope,” i reply, “still have 2 more years after this.”
“wait, what?” is the puzzled response. “haven’t you been in school for a while now?”
“yeah,” i say sheepishly. “it’s a 6-year program.”
“six!!” they exclaim incredulously. “why so long?”
“it’s a phd,” i reply, simultaneously bored and amused by the fact that i’ve now recited this exact same dialogue 802 times, and probably more than once with this person.
“oh,” they say, mildly comforted by this fact. then they shake their heads. “i could never do that much school.”
at which point there’s nothing else for me to do but nod awkwardly, because i don’t really know how to respond to that. so we move on to what’s going on to their lives.
only now that i am in the middle of my 30th finals week (counting high school, college, and grad school), i find myself as bewildered as these acquaintances. why exactly am i still in school? or, more accurately — why am i still taking classes? classes have taken a backseat at this point in my program — i only have 1 or 2 a quarter from now until the end — but as i look at the one paper i have to write this week, i am overwhelmed by tired of class i am. it’s becoming exponentially more difficult to write papers, simply because after this much school, after this many years studying only two subjects, i have little left to say. i’m in 20th grade. enough already.
it’s not quite a comfort to tell myself that there are only 6 finals weeks after this, nor to say that after this paper is done i have to get cracking on the results section of my dissertation. so instead, i will say that come friday at 5, there’s going to be ice cream. in a program this long, the only way you’ll make it to the end is to have little rewards along the way. 🙂