Four more years!

So guess who’s starting a PhD in the fall?vscocam487

That lady right there, the one with the Heidi-esque hair and the  squinty eyes.vscocam484

If you had asked me anytime in my first semester of my MA about doing a PhD, I would have laughed in your face because, to be honest, I hated everything about graduate school. But sometime in the second semester, I stopped hating it. Midway through the third semester, I realized I really liked it. Thus begins the slippery slope of academia.

In one sense, this was a decision that I fell into, propelled by the ease of continuing a program in a place where I am comfortable and happy, and the stability of having another meaningful element of our unpredictable time here in DC. But in another sense, this decision has been one fraught with anxiety and second guessing myself. Do I really want to spend four more year in school? Am I actually able to write a dissertation? Is it worth it if I ultimately decide that I just want to teach high school again?

Even more difficult than those questions about the program itself, where the questions about what this commitment does to the rest of our lives. Frankly, we can’t have it all. This is the real world. Our 20’s are a narrow window and the choices we make here resonate later in life. I see more and more of my friends on Facebook announcing that they are having a baby, or another one, and I wonder, am I making a decision that will later affect my desire to have a big family? I see friends buying houses and ask myself if four more years of me making only a stipend will cripple our chances of long-term savings or house ownership. I see things I want to get involved in at church and in the community that are precluded by evening classes and term papers. I choose this fig and then stress about the ones that are falling around me.

So what do I do? I lie on the couch and cry about my currently non-existent future children going to college far away and leaving me and life passing so quickly while I try to make it stop. Because that’s logical.

But sometimes all you can do is just take the next step, the one that makes the most sense at the moment, even if it is an intimidating, work-leaden, you-might-dread-this-later step. Because at the same time, it is an exciting and exhilarating step of which I am really proud. I guess all that other stuff will just have to wait. Is this “the right decision”? Who knows. But then again, is there really even just one right decision for most choices in life?vscocam485

What do you think? Do you worry that the decisions you are making now will limit other things later? Or am I the only crazy out there…

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28 Responses to Four more years!

  1. Amanda says:

    Um, we are the same person, but I think we knew that. If I lived near you, we would cry about our future children leaving, eat frozen cookie dough then walk far away. That’s the ultimate solution to everything.

  2. Philip says:

    This is us, too. We have regular “What are we doing with our lives?” conferences. And this after we decided we were doing the wrong thing with our lives and moved 3,000 miles to fix it.

    • Hannah says:

      You know, not sure if I left this in a blog comment over at yours, but I have tons of respect for your crazy move. I think sometimes we all just “let life happen” but I like that you all intentionally made it happen.

  3. Like I said on Facebook, we’re going through a lot of the same things. But then it occurred to me that I look at all of my friends who have advanced degrees, houses, and children and am just genuinely proud to call them my friends. I look at their lives and see all of them as very meaningful, and I have every faith that all that is necessary will be provided for them. I might need to apply the same generosity to the way I look at my own life.

    • Hannah says:

      So true, and such a good reminder.

      Also, remember when you gave me that paper half heart BFF thing because we have always lived parallel lives? Love that it is still happening.:)

  4. mary says:

    this is so exciting! i’m sure it is terribly scary step, but also amazing. sometimes all we can do is take the next step forward and see what happens!

  5. Mark Hays says:

    I think your fears are unfounded. It sounds like your situation is substantially better than the typical PhD situation. You are already married going into your PhD, so that improves your expected fertility, plus the second income puts a floor under your standard of living. In terms of the dissertation, I found that writing the related work portion was easy. I admit that creating original research that fulfills the dual obligation of improving the quality of life and gaining the acceptance of the peer-reviewers was difficult. Going into my PhD, I did not yet have an original vision for the future of my industry, so I strongly encourage you to prioritize this step for the sake of expediency.

  6. bkjergaard says:

    Doctah Wegmann…henceforth you shall be named!

    And read this quote from Dinesen when you get stressed: We tremble before making our choice in life, and after having made it again tremble in fear of having chosen wrong. But the moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude. Grace, brothers, makes no conditions and singles out none of us in particular; grace takes us all to its bosom and proclaims general amnesty. See! that which we have chosen is given us and that which we have refused is, also and at the same time, granted us. Ay, and that which we have rejected is poured upon us abundantly.

    And where is the scarf from? Because I need it. I needed it, like, yesterday!

    • Hannah says:

      LOVE that quote. Thanks Bethy.

      And as for the scarf, it is from Madewell, and I have been obsessed since Laura gave it to me for Christmas.

  7. Kelly says:

    You are fine! Remember how much younger you are too then others (me) that’s the advantage of starting elementary school when you are younger. You have more time to explore. Life is an amazing precious gift but don’t waste your present for your future. (Also even being in school you can still have kids but it’s a lot harder being away from family and doing that). Don’t let Facebook judge you. It doesn’t always give the real story. I have an amazing husband who takes care of our little one all the time. He changed every diaper while he was around and now she goes to the daycare where he works. If not for this I’d never be able to have a child. Where we live owning a house saves is about $300 per month maybe more with tax benefits, etc. I doubt it’d be the same in DC.

  8. H says:

    “What do you think? Do you worry that the decisions you are making now will limit other things later?”

    You are definitely not the only crazy one. It’s nice to know that other people are trusting God as they make tough decisions as well.

  9. Kate Schweiss says:

    “I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me.” -Blessed J.H. Cardnial Newman

    I have come back to this quotation over and over in the past many years. One step at a time is all we need ask for God to illuminate. We wouldn’t believe the whole picture if we could see it anyway, I am sure! Every big decision seems to bring a tiny twinge of regret for whatever may have been otherwise, but I believe that’s part of what it feels like to be an eternal soul living within time. Our souls will always long for something more until we are united perfectly with God, so be confident in your lovely decision, knowing that if it is where He has led you to at the moment, it is the “right” place to be.

    • Hannah says:

      Such a perfect quote! ” an eternal soul living within time” — so lovely and true! It is a good reminder that this moment is always the right one.

  10. thefroglyprince says:

    Well if you were an economist you could just run an opportunity cost measurement on your decisions. haha

  11. angie stone says:

    Second guessing decisions, sometimes feeling discontent and other times feeling thankful, continues thruout the life stages. The only really depressing time would be when you no longer are capable or interested in making decisions or you have no options. So….stepping forward into the unknown means you are still very much alive.

  12. joan says:

    My son-in-law is working on his dissertation this year. They moved to Boston about six years ago when he was accepted at Brandeis. I am very proud of both of them!
    Everything you want will fall into place. Life works itself out.

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