Wednesday, September 29, 2010

diagnosing the problem.

“I love New York in the fall. Makes me want to buy school supplies.” 
– Tom Hanks as Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail

Well, Joe, this year I got to buy school supplies, and you know what? I’ve decided I prefer the buying to the actual using.

I was talking with a friend this past weekend about my grad school experience, and as our conversation progressed, it hit me that maybe it’s not that grad school isn’t for me; maybe it's that this particular program isn’t for me.

My graduate institution is nothing like my undergraduate university. I knew that going in. The class sizes, the one-on-one attention: I knew all that would be different at a larger school. But perhaps what I forgot was the university I selected also happens to be a research institution. That doesn’t mean every program is research-based, but many have that emphasis. And my poor little liberal arts heart can barely take it.

When people ask why I want a master’s degree, my answer is simple: I like to learn. I want to know things because I like the learning process, and I like delving in to subjects that matter to me. As an undergraduate, I was given every possibility to learn lots of things about lots of different subjects. I truly believe I received the best classical liberal arts education possible.

I wrongly assumed that a communications program would just be a continuation of that education. Instead, communications is a field not so much concerned with words but with the science and psychology behind the words.

Did you catch that?


Blech. I like to learn, but science? I gave up science when my mom sold my microscope in a yard sale.

Psychology? I can handle it in small doses. I even took a couple of classes in undergrad.

But please, I beg, give me my words. I don’t really care why you choose to say the things that you do. I just care about the words. The literature. The rhetoric.

See, what I want to be “when I grow up” changes daily.

But through all the years of changing occupations (teacher, restaurant owner, interior designer, graphic designer, journalist, editor, communications guru), there has been one constant.

I have always loved words.

Teaching, to me, is all about words, which ones you use and how you use them.

When I seriously considered opening my famous deli, Annie Banani’s (catchy, I know), I was more concerned with the names of the sandwiches than the actual cooking.

As an aspiring interior decorator, I developed my own pretend magazine, Bright Ideas. Sure, I cared about the interiors. But what I really wanted to make sure of was how the articles about those interiors were written.

Even as a graphic designer, I find myself drawn to the words used in the designs I create.

Words — specifically, how they come together to tell a story — are the reason I love journalism.

So maybe grad school isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s that I’m spending my days reading about theory and psychology and hypotheses, when I’d rather be reading about words. Authors. Literature.

Maybe I need to switch programs.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to put some serious thought into another dream.

Like becoming the next Kathleen Kelly.

Yep, that sounds about right.


Jessica said...

annie, i changed mine. that's one of the main reasons i've been mia on my blog. lots of changes going on and i guess i needed some solitude to look within and see what and who i really was meant to be. i love, love, love to read and write. i love books. i just knew english was the path for me. i enjoyed my graduate english experience, but then all those jane austen novels that i love turned into work and everything means something else and ugh...i lost my love. plus the whole infertility thing. so i took some time off. well, after much introspection, i started back to grad school. i'm going to be a counselor! jessica crowe, licensed professional counselor! it has a nice ring, right? i'm loving it! it was the right choice. i'll admit it was kinda hard swallowing down my pride and going a different direction, but i'm loving life so much more now. i know you'll be great at anything you decide to do. go with your heart. why spend 2-3 years doing something that you aren't that crazy about anyway?

congrats on the makeunder my life shout out! you're famous:)

jenna said...

Annie, I think the dream of being the next Kathleen Kelly is a beautiful dream. :) I can envision it!

And hey - Jessica! Guess what! I am pursuing counseling too! I am in an undergrad class at a local university now, just to get my feet wet, and I am looking at grad school possibilities. Well, thinking about looking for them. I haven't really gotten to that part yet. I may just take different classes and not get the degree. Who knows...

I love you girls!

Nikki said...

Annie I totally understand. You have a wonderful way with those words that you love so much. I can compare your thoughts of diagnosing the problem as to your lack of love for grad school to my lack of love for my job. It isn't teaching that I hate, it's the teaching assignment I currently have. So I am seeking to teach in a different setting, different group of kids, different curriculum, etc... until I find what fits best with me! Good luck in your quest! I will be praying that you find what makes you happiest!

Kim Humes said...

I LOVE Kathleen Kelly, and that movie. The quote at the beginning is one of my favourites ever! I love when he says "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address". *sigh*
Don't worry about changing your mind alot, I do the same thing and most ppl do. It's just most ppl don't have the balls to actually go out there and make a change they want to make bc it scares the shit out of them. So good for you for being proactive!!

Lauren said...

You and I sound like we're cut from the same cloth, except I have put off from going to grad school because I haven't nailed down what it is that I want to do. What are girls to do who like to do too much!?

At least you know that you love words!!

Betsy said...

I've been wanting to watch "You've Got Mail" for days now! It's one of my favorite movies, and a definite favorite this time of year. I too am a sucker for buying school supplies. And I would love it if my future (currently unknown) husband gave me a bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils at the beginning of every school year.

As for the frustration with the research university, I completely understand! Alabama is also a tier-1 research university, and the emphasis in my Spanish Lit program is your personal research, how many conferences you present papers at, and how many publications you have. Here I was thinking that I was going to learn how to be a better teacher/professor one day (which is where my true passion lies), and I'm basically being taught how to research and write academic papers. Definitely NOT my idea of what I want to do with my life!

If you're unhappy with communications, then maybe you should consider switching programs if the opportunity presents itself. After all, words and literature is where your passion is...and I'm beginning to think that God gives us certain passions in life for a reason. I'm praying for you and your decision--I know that it's not an easy one.