Posted by: rachelanne229 | July 15, 2010

is this right?

i just had a long talk with one of my roomies about the feelings of inadequacy that come with being a grad student.  when we graduated from bowdoin last year, we felt so fresh and excited to begin our journey to become scientists (ooh! scientists!), but this summer, as we fail to get promising results, we are doubting if we’re cut out for this.  other people seem so much smarter, and get results, and we put in the hours, but our progress is slow and certainly not steady.  what’s wrong with us?  are we wasting our time?  should we be stepping aside and letting better-qualified people do the work?  why don’t we feel passion for what we do?  isn’t that what graduate school is supposed to be about?  what’s WRONG with us?!  these are some of the questions that we bounced off each other.  and in congruence with our research progress, we had no answers.

on tuesday, the graduate program director told me he’d like to see me apply for the EEOS phd program.  i was flattered (!) but also a little sick at the thought of another four years slaving away on something in which i’ve partially lost interest.  why don’t i love my research?  how can i rejuvenate myself?  should i give up?  should i go for the phd?  SO MANY QUESTIONS.

speaking of research, i made the trek to the aquarium today with a big-ass cooler to pick up some jellies.  i met with the jelly guy and collected 9 little beauties:)  and also got to see the penguins FO’ FREE!  (waffle fries, anyone?)  apparently a significant portion of the T stations don’t have elevators, so i found myself stuck on the wrong side of the stairs with a big-ass cooler now full of water and jellyfish on my way home.  luckily, some strapping young gentlemen helped me cart this mother all around and got me where i needed to go.

yesterday was a day of despair.  i HATED massachusetts and boston and all things having to do with this place in which i find myself living for at least another year.  today, however, strangers approached me right and left.  they struck up conversations on the T, offered to carry my cooler, and were sweet on the phone.  actually, so many people offered to lug around my cooler for me today that i was starting to be afraid that i looked like some wimpy girl who couldn’t handle it, but i guess i’ll just be thankful for kind people instead.  i was also addressed as “ma’am,” and this woman said to her daughter, “let the lady walk by before you throw  your ball,” which makes me feel weird.  i’m not sure if the weird feeling is swaying in a positive or negative direction.  ma’am and lady make me feel old!  what happened to girl?  when did that phase end?!

saw a guy on the T yesterday wearing a wife-beater who had a humongo scar on his right arm.  an inch wide of smooth pink skin stretching from his armpit to his elbow.  lots of little dots lining both sides of the scar indicating stitches, i guess.  i wanted so badly to ask him what happened, but obviously didn’t.  scars really interest me, but i have a bad habit of getting too curious about where they come from and forget to mind my own damn business.  i have learned some terrific/ible stories tho.  like my aussie friend who has a crater-like scar marking up her shoulder.  gunshot wound received as her family fled from a town in africa!

another thing: KURT VONNEGUT.  reading his short stories right now, and they are inspiring.  the creative boost i feel when reading them is like the jolt i get from hearing a song that really hits home for me or a poem i find touching; i want to write something like this!  i want to write something like this that can inspire someone else to write something like this.

and my final thought before i head ‘er in: i NEED to live back in maine.  i want to be close to my family.  i want to live in the same town as my parents and see them whenever i want and someday when i have kids, i want them to be able to have sleepovers at their grandparents’ all the time.  i want to garden and cook and kayak with my mom at the end of the day and go out to breakfast and to the movies with my dad.  what the hell am i doing so far away from the people i love the most?   i don’t particularly enjoy living in the city, i don’t particularly like the work i’m doing, i don’t particularly like paying $6 million for rent each month.  i do like the people i meet and the many activity options and the vibrance and diversity i feel here, tho.  but this cannot be my home, and i’m getting exhausted from trying to fit into a place that can’t understand me and a city that, by default, can’t give me the small-town community feel that i crave and miss.

eww, this is a rather melodramatic post.  but in our apartment, this week has presented the roomster and me with identity crises as we try to answer the all-important questions of whether we are cut out for this crap.  i have a feeling this quandary is bothering many in our recent college grad cohort.  we’re all in it together, kids!

insert “livin’ on a prayer” lyrics here:P



  1. Hey I think it’s natural to question your career choices I wouldn’t get too hung up about it. If you can’t get the spark back after awhile then you can worry.

    Do you live with Tanya? If so say hi for me

  2. thanks, Nick! yes i do live with her, and i will:)

  3. Hey Rachel! I’m sorry you’re feeling badly about Boston now. It seems a lot of people around me are in life crisis mode (myself included)! I think the solution is to get out and do things you love to find balance with any work stresses. Hope you are well. Let’s hang out soon!

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