The Big News

I've been thinking a lot about a lot of things this past week, but none of my ruminations have made it to this space, because I told myself that I couldn't write about anything else until I had spread the word about my Big News. But my Big News is emotionally difficult to face, so I've had a hard time composing the announcement. Anyways, here goes:

I am in the process of withdrawing from my doctoral program.

This decision has come about fairly abruptly, and I'm still working out the logistics. But I am confident that this is the right move for me right now -- and in a very real sense, I have no other choice. The depression and burnout I've been dealing with for most of the last five years have caused me to drop far behind in my program, and also make the prospect of trying to catch up to an acceptable level daunting in the extreme. I've kept trying to move ahead because I didn't want to waste what I've already invested in this career, but I've reached the point of such diminished returns that it doesn't make sense to keep on trying. I'm exhausted, and I need a real break.

There remains a slim possibility that after a year or so of respite I could apply to re-enroll and finish my program, but more realistically, I think I'm looking at a total career change. I'm not exactly in the best psychological place to be launching a job hunt right now, so I may wind up doing some flunky office temp work for awhile while I get my feet back under me. The plan is to stay in the Durham area until I have a good reason to go elsewhere. I have a few ideas about where I'd like to go from here, but we'll see what comes along.

I never knew it was possible to feel this relieved and hopeful and this terrified and grief-stricken about the same thing at the same time. I covet your prayers as I make my way through this transition into the unknown.


leslie ruth said...

I am VERY proud of you for making this hard but extremely brave decision. I'm so thankful that you are taking care of yourself in this way. And as someone who is going through the job hunt herself: I think Durham will be a WAAAAAAAAAAY easier place to find a job :) I can totally see you working at a bookstore. Good way to feed that nasty habit of yours (hee hee!)

toweringajax said...

I concur with Ms. Petree. As one who has pulled out of a previous doctoral program (and as one who tried to take a leave of absence from his current one)I know what courage you must have to make such a choice - and how unbelievably stressful coming to that decision must have been (still is).

David and Sarah said...

We'll be praying for you too, Rachel. It's funny how we academics get so wrapped up in being academics--it's not just a job or a calling, it's an identity. It's hard to imagine being anything else. But maybe that's the problem. I will pray that your grief will soon give way entirely to hope and relief, and that no longer being a grad student will help you to be a better disciple. One more thing: don't think that just because you're not enrolled at Duke anymore you can stop being friends with the rest of us!

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