Monday, July 18, 2011

You're Not Alone - Part 4

This week's search terms bringing people to this blog ... now with commentary!

"guilt about leaving academia"
Why be guilty? Do you think your department feels guilty that you're so miserable that you want to leave? I doubt it. There's nothing to feel guilty about if you are miserable at your job and want to leave. As long as you leave in a respectful way (don't abruptly quit in the middle of a class session, notify your advisors, don't burn down the building on the way out), why should you feel guilty? Your department will go on without you. You can still find ways to teach and do research. Don't feel guilty for making yourself happy.

"about to begin graduate school, depressed about money"
It remains to be seen if you will have enough money to survive on. But there's nothing wrong with wanting to make enough money to survive. Grad school can make that very hard. There's nothing wrong with admitting that, or with doing something to make your financial situation better.

"grad school depression and anxiety"
I recommend that you check out this post. I don't think it's an illusion that a lot of people start to "feel crazy" when they start a grad program. I think graduate school causes mental distress for a lot of people.

"does not having a faculty position make you feel like a loser"
Not at all. :) On the contrary, I feel like I dodged a bullet, because I think I'd be miserable in 99% of faculty jobs. But everyone is different ... so you should carefully consider your options and think about what you want. But don't buy the academic line that a faculty position is the only job worth having. That might be true for some people, but it's certainly not true for everyone.

Presented without commentary:
"hate my dissertation topic want to quit"
"hate my research program and advisor"
"graduate school guilt"

You're not alone.


  1. Oh, the guilt! I had that. So so much. I put off telling my chair forever that I wasn't going back on the job market, even though I knew deep down that she'd respect my decision. Not only did she respect it, but she confessed (after I apologized profusely for letting her down) that she felt some guilt herself for training graduate students when there are so few prospects out there. So that put things in perspective.

  2. My advisor and I actually haven't been in contact in awhile, but I'd told him before that I was at least somewhat interested in jobs outside academia, and he basically encouraged me in that direction. So luckily, guilt in terms of my advisor hasn't been a big issue.

    Guilt in terms of what the department more generally had "given me," and in terms of what my fellow grad students would think? Yes. I kept worrying about the money the department had given me, and how I still had papers going with grad student colleagues.

    Of course, that ignores that I actually WORKED for the money they gave me, and that I could still finish up my research projects while working full-time. But, yeah, the guilt was there. And it's there in a lot of ways for a lot of people. When you tell people that their job isn't just a job, but a calling, they're going to feel bad for bailing. But man, is that utter crap. :)