Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moving Forward with No Direction

The great thing about a new year is what it symbolizes: a fresh start and a chance to move forward.

The awful thing about a new year is what it symbolizes: a fresh start and a chance to move forward.

With all this talk of resolutions, a new administration, hope for the future, and so forth, it certainly is the perfect time to think about your life and reprioritize. One thing I've been thinking a lot about is what I'm going to do next. Right now, I'm lucky to be at a job I really like, and doing enough other things to keep me busy and on my toes. But I know I won't be there forever, and I have to start making decisions about what to do next.

Should I go to grad school and get a PhD in Women's Studies? While that's what I've wanted to do for the longest time now, WST programs are being cut all over the place and I'd like to have a job after getting a PhD. So, should I go to law school? This does seem like a good choice... but do I want to accumulate all that debt if I don't like the high-paying lawyer jobs? Ok, should I forget about school altogether and just keep working my way up the non-profit world? That sounds good and easy... but probably too easy for somebody who loves learning and feels most at home in school. Hmm. So, should I go to grad school and get a PhD in Women's Studies?

This is the debate I have with myself every other day. I go around in circles and have no conclusion other than "this is annoying, I'll figure it out tomorrow."

But all of these months later, I think "tomorrow" is finally here. I still have no idea what to do, but I've given myself until March to decide. Can somebody out there please help me out with advice?


Kekla Magoon said...

I've had a similar thought many times about law school. While I think it'd be fascinating to learn what lawyers know, I ultimately don't want to practice law (at least not in the way you have to to pay off your loans!).

But I could see YOU really thriving in a women's studies PhD program, and it sounds like that is where your heart and ambitions lie.

I say, go for it. Despite the fact that it may be a hard time for Women's Studies programs right now, these things cycle over time. The world is changing, and women are becoming more and more a part of it. We will always need women's studies, and we need people to fight for it, especially if it appears it's no longer valued in higher education. The women's studies departments of the future may not be so heavily "traditionally feminist" based, they may have a broader appeal. Maybe that model is what's dying out, to make room for women who identify with feminism and womanhood in many different ways. (I'm speculating, here. I don't know a lot about these programs, to be honest.)

Bottom line, it seems like a PhD can open a lot of doors. You could write, or teach (in that or a related discipline), or consult, or work in politics, or return to work in a women-serving non-profit, or an advocacy-based non-profit in a high level position with that kind of experience.

That's my advice, for what it's worth.

You will find your way. These days I'm really convinced that being honest with yourself and following your heart will get you where you need to be, even if you can't see the end of your road from the beginning. You know? Just trust that if you dive into your passion, soon enough you will float.

Kekla Magoon said...

Wow - that was way long.

And I'm very sorry to have ended it on such a random weird metaphor. Oh, well.

sally said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kekla!

I must say that I usually lean towards Women's Studies, but the idea of going to law school is also very appealing. I've always been interested in public policy and a J.D. would be a great way to really make concrete change. But the lawyers in public policy/service don't make nearly enough money to pay back the loans I already have, let alone the ones I'll accumulate in law school.

Ai yai yai!

Pauline Karakat said...

I am in the same boat in terms of being at the crossroads in my life, and not knowing which road to take. I trying to determine whether to pursue a PhD program in Literature or to re-start my ambition to take the U.S. Public Diplomacy exam this year. I can tell you what I am going to do...I am going to prepare to do both, and see how far I get. Kekla is right...it seems like your heart is directing you towards a women's studies PhD program. Explore all your options (it will be like a second job to do all this leg work, but it will be worth it) and then see what happens.

I hope I'm making sense! You are definitely not alone when it comes to feeling lost when moving forward. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Here's a recent horoscope I received that really inspired me to make some changes ...

When a candle does what it is made to do, it brings light into dark places. When a fisherman does what she loves, her family gets fed. When the weather does what it wants, it brings us inside to change our clothes. Being yourself is the greatest service you can provide everyone around you at this time. Luckily, the boost of confidence you may need to get to that point of honesty is ready for you to access it. When you decide to make the changes necessary to support your decision, expect the unexpected. The process by which you open yourself up involves many doors and windows and the wind is sure to blow some misplaced papers around. Just remember: for some, paper blowing around is a mess waiting to happen, and to others it is a confetti party.

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