It’s weird to get a PhD. I know a lot of people don’t say it but achieving something like that makes you look at life differently. While my overall goal was to use the degree for higher education, I’ve found myself in the same field I’ve been in for the past 6 years. After all that time and energy spent and all the late nights and revisions and I’m not exactly working in my field full time. I need to have a strategy and to find out a way to maximize this new education level. This summer I plan to be more focused on having a plan and implementing it. I want to do more things and working on creating new opportunities. But I need to be more disciplined and consistent in order for it to work.
I can across an interesting article that coincides with what I’ve been thinking hard about these past few days. It’s about black people and wealth disparities. You can read it here . As the product of two generations of a middle class family (grandparents and parents), I don’t have anything to show for all their hard work. No property, no trust fund, no assets. Just a crippling amount of student loan debt. And I know that I’m not the only one in this predicament. Growing up, my father worked and my mother stayed home to care for us. She decided that she wanted to raise her children and homeschool us so she did. As a result, we lived in a single income household. A phenomenon that I’m experiencing now with my household of one. There are so many things that I want to do now but I won’t be able to because of my financial obligations. Transitioning to teaching or a post-doctoral position would require a pay cut of about 20k to 40k per year and I can’t afford that. This year one of my goals is to become more financially literate and I’m working on it. However, I wish that I didn’t have to start from the bottom and if I ever make enough money to afford kids I want them to have a different experience. It’s like I’m starting off at a disadvantage and don’t have the opportunity to at least start at baseline. Definitely tough.
The past few weeks have gone by extremely fast but at this point I’m at the end of my doctoral journey. It’s been a long six years and I can’t believe that I have been in school consistently since 2008. That’s an entire decade of my life that I can’t get back. I haven’t even decided to real if it’s been worth it. However, I think that so far it has. I’ve had the opportunity to work full time and live in multiple places while working on my education. But now it’s time to make new goals as the ink on the new initials after my name continue to dry. I need to find something meaningful and while traditionally I’ve found that in education, I’m open for a change. If I’m being honest, I’d love to spend some dedicated time addressing my rotted carcass of a love life but that could be problematic and it isn’t a guaranteed win. It’s a hope. Needless to say, I have to fill my time with other things than school at this point. It’s going to be weird not having a paper due or assignments to complete. Right now my focus is on my job search and figuring out where I’ll be living next. I want to enjoy the feeling of completing the highest degree that one can earn but it just feels somewhat hollow at this point. It’s not a letdown but it’s just weird. I want to start writing more on a creative basis and I’ve been doing better so far this year with making in-person connections with people. I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect and have already traveled to Europe once this year. I would love to do more traveling but most of all I think I also want a real “home base” for once. Like an actual home/apartment where I live permanently. I want my life post-PhD to involve getting settled down at some point and moving to a different chapter that could possibly include marriage and kids. However, it’s going to take a huge shift in focus and being deliberate in creating the life that I want. I’m determined but I need to plan so that I know the next thing I’m working towards. I have to fill this empty space of time.
One thing that has been nice about the past two weekends is that I’ve had the chance to travel a bit. Weekend travel is fun but tends to be rushed because you don’t have a lot of time to recover from the work week before you have to be at work again on Monday morning. While there’s plenty to do on the central California coast, it’s always nice to have a change of scenery. I had my first plane ride ten years ago and I’ve been addicted ever since. There’s something intriguing and cool about takeoff and flying in the clouds where you have a totally different perspective. Next year I plan to travel more as the majority of my time this year was spent in a cubicle on the third floor of an office building in metro Atlanta. Maybe even get a job that involves frequent travel. It’s so important to see the world and while it would be nice to have a significant other as a traveling partner, I’m fine with exploring alone. Time to plan some trips.
- Life is hard. It’s messy and doesn’t have any promises or absolutes. But it’s easier to go through those stressors having money. Just like it sucks to be sad but its more comfortable to cry in a Bentley than on your bike.
- Advance planning is important. It’s hard to make crucial decisions when you’re still reeling from emotions and you have to think clearly. It’s better to get it out the way and not worry about it than to scramble last minute.
- It’s important to take some initiative and find out what resources are around you. After all, it’s better to know someone and not need them than to need someone and not know them.
- Questions are good. Ask them.
- Keep an open mind. Just because things have been done a certain way for a while doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved or become more efficient.
It’s interesting how much better the word(s) “resign” or “step down” sound instead of “quit.” A month ago I was in a job that I really didn’t like. I often found myself fantasizing about how I would spend my days if I wasn’t confined to my cubicle answering calls and typing stuff. I really felt that my professional skills were wasting away and that I needed to do something different. I worked from February to June without any days off other than weekends and a holiday so that I could hoard some vacation time and also plot my escape from the plantation—I mean the job. So I applied for a lot of things and started actively searching for something different. I went on vacation and realized that I had forgotten how nice it was to sleep in for a change and sleep well at night. Throughout this time period I had been interviewing for several different positions. I had a target date for leaving and was starting to mentally prepare for a change. The transition back to my cubicle was hard and I realized that I couldn’t deal with being so confined much longer. After 7 lovely days on a beach, my free spirit was wanting out ASAP. Don’t get me wrong, I typically give plenty of notice when quitting aka resigning from a job. Like at least a month or so. I’ve trained my replacements and created manuals in order to help the next person get by easier. But this was about to be an exception. All of a sudden there was a shift and I got three job offers in the period of 2 days. It was a wrap. I accepted one of the three jobs and the next day I floated into the office and sent an email saying that I resigned effective immediately. It was one of the best feelings that I’ve ever had in my life. It was like I had just been released from prison and I had a new lease on life. I don’t understand why people spend decades in jobs they hate. Life is way too short for all that. Get a plan, work the plan and get out. It’s interesting that later I discovered that most of the people I worked with on my team were being laid off. They say God works in mysterious ways.
For some reason I’ve met a lot of people whose retirement plan consists of winning the lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a nice dream to have but the odds aren’t the greatest. I remember reading an article somewhere that talked about how millennials don’t want to spend decades doing the same job like older generations did. I personally can’t imagine doing the same job consistently for over a year as I get bored easily but also like consistency. The truth of the matter is that it’s important to challenge yourself. I’ve started to get into the habit of doing something drastically different every once in a while. It’s amazing how much you can plan and implement when you take some time off and reflect. I like learning new skills that build on my existing knowledge base. While all my jobs haven’t been fun, they’ve taught me so much about myself. I love the idea of stability but I hate when it gets confused with monotony. Life is short and should be lived accordingly. Self-reflection and planning is critical for success. Take the time to do that instead of staying in reaction mode all the time.