I have kept a lot to myself in recent months and so it seems appropriate to break down just where I’m currently at.
I did a thing I never thought I would — I dropped out of graduate school in the last half of my final quarter. I fought hard to make it that far and yet I quit. This takes some explanation. I think people don’t understand why I would quit when I only had 5–6 weeks left of work. My heart was no longer in it and I couldn’t bring myself to complete any work. I was so miserable for something that was not necessarily going to improve my life. Having a graduate degree would not and could not solve all of my problems. Once the joy that it once gave me was gone, I figured it was time to say goodbye.
It has been amazing to get to feel like a real person again. I have free time and I’m not constantly a ball of stress. I got to make a choice for myself and have no one make me feel as if I were wrong for doing so. Not having either of my toxic parents in my life has certainly made this much easier than it could have been. I no longer have an obligation to do anything that I do not want to do in some capacity. I am not trying to live up to anyone’s expectations except my own — although I can’t say that’s always much easier.
Now I am trying to take time to figure out who I am and what I want to do with all of my free time. Not having a hobby is pretty difficult. I end up feeling like I’m not necessarily accomplishing much with my time, a mindset that is likely a holdover from my time in grad school. I’m not used to having this much free time anymore and I think that it will take a while for me to figure out what I want.
I think that is my biggest struggle right now. I have no idea what I want anymore. I thought I wanted graduate school more than anything else but I ended up miserable and resentful at the end. There are so many things that I would love to accomplish but I feel such anxiety and fear about starting them. I end up daydreaming about things I might enjoy doing but I cannot bring myself to pursue them.
I have a sewing machine that sits unused in my hallway closet. I have a credit at the local aerial arts school since I got too sick to participate during the winter session. I am in love with the idea of roller derby. I have so many books I would love to read and I want to work on my Chinese again in preparation for a trip to Taiwan that is still two years away.
However, each of those things end up provoking the same procrastination I faced while in school. While I feel that my general state of anxiety has improved, I find myself stuck in a holding pattern. I have no idea where to go from here or what I want which is absolutely terrifying. I know rationally that I am not alone in this sort of experience following the end of higher education, but it feels incredibly lonely to be this lost.
The one thing I am trying to remember right now is that feeling this way does not make me a bad person. It is okay to feel confused and anxious about the future. I’m certainly not the first or last person to feel this way. It seems that it is simply time to make some decisions about what I want and committing to things as opposed to just hiding away. At some point, I need to embrace the fear and move forward, instead of letting it hold me back. The real struggle is taking the first step and continuing to move in some direction, even if that’s not always forward.