Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why? Because sweet baby Jesus told me to.


What’s that?

The prelude to death.

Geez that’s depressing. But, honestly, that’s how I feel. Since 2005 I’ve had my plans, my future, my goals laid out in a perfect row. I’ve had each task and subtask set up to fall like dominoes. 

First, I thought – I’ll make a great doctor. I’ll become a bio major. I’ll ace all of my classes, take the MCAT, go to med school, become a cardiovascular surgeon or OB/GYN and my life will be golden.

Then, I discovered that I hated medicine and pretty much all that the institution of medicine stood for. But I still wanted to help people. I still wanted to use my degree to help someone’s life in some fashion. My experiences with research during internships and mentoring lead me to graduate school.

I found that I loved teaching and mentoring. I decided, screw med school – I’ll get a PhD and teach at the college level. Frantically I searched for the perfect school. I found it. I dove in head first – but not before I revamped my plan. Go to grad school, ace every class, write some kick-ass grants and win some kick-ass money, graduate, do a post-doc, then become a kick-ass teacher.


What are those?

If nothing else, they’re almost exactly like ass holes.

My friend asked me if I ever had a moment where I had to stop and say “this is not my life.” I told her “every day.”

I’m afraid to leave because this is safe. My life up until this point has always been safe. I haven’t had to worry about money, about where my next meal was coming from, about bills. And I fear that leaving this place that has turned me inside out will thrust my world into a chaotic mess from which there will be no return.

Oooo the drama!

In all seriousness I worry about what it will mean if I don’t finish this plan, this task – if I don’t finish this. What will people think? What will they say? What will I do?  There are so many questions, so many other careers that I could pursue – and already I find myself thinking – I could do that – and making plans to get to whatever “that” is. I’m so worried about being a failure that I’m not taking the time to figure out what I actually want to do. I’m terribly single-minded. It’s a flaw. A curse. I wish I was more carefree.


Such a lofty little word, isn’t it? Though, it’s only worth 10 points in Scrabble.


I shudder to think of it. But then I think about all the people that are living their lives. All those people that are trippin’ the light fantastic in the homes of their hearts, living in cities with their families and friends and eating sushi and imbibing sake and I think – I want that back. I miss it so much.

I’m cold here and lonely. Worse yet, I’m incredibly unfulfilled.  I loved biology once. I thought we’d have a long and fruitful relationship. Now, I worry that if I don’t bow out, it’ll be too late and we won’t even be able to manage a friendship when the dust settles.

Some may read this and say, “you’re just giving up, giving in. You didn’t try hard enough.” I’ve got quite a few colorful words in my arsenal for you, whoever you may be. But, because I’m such a fuckin lady, I’m choosing not to share them.

I’m the only one who knows what I’ve tried and what I haven’t. And I’m the only one who knows what’s best for me, my life (or the lack thereof) and my sanity. And, fortunately enough for me, at 23 I’ve learned an age old lesson – people are going to think what they want, regardless of what I do. It is wholly unnecessary for me to prove myself to anyone but me, and baby Jesus. Cuz baby Jesus is awesome. Lesson learned. Can we fast forward now?

I’ve done a bit of soul searching over the last few months. I’ve been back and forth over what decision I would make. Should I stay? Should I go? I don’t know. (Hey, aren’t those the lyrics to a song?)

No more flippity flopping. No more whining. No more. I’m ready to go home. Failure and all.


  1. "Trying things" is part of life Kristen; it is how you find out what you want and who you really are. Don't see it as a failure, its part of growing up and living. Learning!

    No matter what you do or what paths you choose, you are absolutely correct that you know what is best for you. You are very smart and driven person; and I am sure you will be successful in whatever you chose.

  2. If you define success as "acing all your classes, writing kick-ass grants and having a kick-ass PI" (loosely paraphrased, sorry), then yes, you probably have failed.

    Look carefully at both of your 'life plans' to date. I see some common modifiers used there...maybe those are the problem, not you.

    I'm afraid that your standards may be too high and that the goals you have set may be unreasonable. I think it might be easier to count successes if you make them smaller and more frequent..."I will study harder and even if my grades don't reflect that studying, then I will know the material better and be a better person (or scientist/nerd/whathaveyou) as a result." There is a lot of room in your 'plans' for failure, and even if you achieve a lot, you can still condemn yourself for things that are beyond your control.

    Have you tried your best, and most importantly, have you learned from the mistakes you've made? Have you sought improvement?

    There is more I could say, but I will leave it at that for now. I am not trying to argue with your decision, but I want to offer another perspective. I'm sorry if you find this abrasive, but I honestly would like to help you and I'm afraid that you are going to feel like a failure again, whether you really are one or not.

  3. Thanks Glen. Your encouragement and kind words are very much appreciated.

  4. Kristen, no matter what you choose, we are all here for you.

    Additionally, feeling like this is not uncommon, if you choose to stay. I know. I'm a fifth year. It's not for everyone, but if you do decide it is for does get better.

    Hit me up if you need an ear.

  5. Thanks Maris. You've always been super nice and incredibly helpful. I really appreciate you saying what you've said here. It helps a lot. It truly does.