Tag Archives: grad school

My job is the center of my world

And I don’t like it.

Sorry for the hiatus.  I’ve been overworked, and beyond stressed, so much so that it has been a chore to even check my page.  Since August, I’ve applied to grad school, dropped the one course I was taking (and costing me $7K in the process) and attempted to get funding in order for said grad school.  I almost at the deadline for applying to funding, and I feel like it’s all about to fall apart.  The one school I wanted to get into rejected me, and I’m kinda stuck until I hear from the other department at the same school.  Since my work is affiliated with the school, my thesis is sort of tied to that school and it associations with my coworkers.  If I don’t get in, then my research plans fall apart, and I may have to quit in shame.  I feel like it’s totally my fault, like I didn’t try hard enough or want it enough.  I didn’t talk to the right people, at the right time.  I did try, but some didn’t respond, and others didn’t see eye to eye.  I’m not sure how much more I could do without becoming a pushy obnoxious bitch. I get panic attacks when I try to email anyone now.

So the Boy got promoted.  Technically he’s sort of my boss now, but he manages a different subset of people and projects, so I haven’t had to interact with him in any significant way at work.  He’s even been kind enough to not be at my performance or salary review.  We both agreed, before he got promoted, that it would be awkward.  Not that our relationship isn’t awkward anyway.

Not much has changed relationship wise, except we no longer go to lunch.  I had recently learned that some of our coworkers have tried to “figure us out” a few years ago.  We were visibly friends at work, but we don’t even show affection in private, so I’m not sure where they got the idea.  I think they’re just bored and like rumors.  Either way, we don’t even acknowledge each other anymore at work.  Lunch together is out of the question.  What is really upsetting me is we haven’t “gone out”, either to dinner, or just be in public together since he got promoted.  Admittedly, we didn’t do that alot before, but it’s been 6 months and we haven’t even gone out for dinner, including my birthday.  I don’t know if its subconsciously trying to avoid running into anyone, or our relationship is just that boring.

Someday I’d like a boyfriend I can admit to having.

On other relationship news, I saw J once since the death of her brother last summer.  It was at a christmas party with too many people and I shutdown pretty fast.  I’m realizing that I have not much in common with her, and even less so with her friends.  I haven’t seen her sister in who knows how long.  It’s been so long that she’s stopped asking me to hang out.  Too many broken promises on my end.  Still, if I had really wanted to be with her, I would have found a way.  Instead I found excuses.

The only people I can “relax” or act normally around are a small subset of coworkers.  These people have graduated to friends, where I can see them outside of work.  The problem I’m having is if I ever leave for a new job, I don’t know if the friendships will stay.

Hence the title of this post.  Most of my day is at work. My only “friends” are at work.  Hell, even my “boyfriend” is from work.  Sometimes all we talk about is work.  I don’t know if those are real relationships or not.  It’s all I have and it scares me.  My free time is spent thinking about work, and worrying about what I haven’t done, or who I upset.  This is why the grad school situation terrifies me.  If I go, it will be even more time devoted to work (since they are sponsoring, and will benefit from my degree)

Sometimes I just want everything to collapse, so I can start over, and maybe be a better version of me.

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I can’t turn off the screaming

Whenever I’m alone, I scream obscenities at myself.  It’s gets worse when I’m stressed.  And I have been *really* stressed.  It’s repetitive, and doesn’t even make sense most of the time, and I’m not even sure why I’m doing it.  It’s like a compulsion.  Most of the time it’s “you fucking piece of shit”, “fucking whore/slut”, “Bitch” and “You deserve to die”.  I’m not sure where the whore/slut ones come from.  I guess I’m just looking for the most degrading insults I can find.  Normally, these are just running in the back of my head, and I think of them when I make a mistake (like say the wrong word or not knowing what to do or say) or miss an opportunity.  Now I’ve been flat out screaming them at myself.  I think I’ve failed in some way, but logically, I haven’t.  A situation didn’t turn out how I would have liked, but it was beyond my control.  I did almost everything I could to make it right, but something just don’t work out.  I’m sure if I compromised on what I wanted, or overpromised it would have been better, but then I would be in a worse situation later.

Oh, a new one while I was thinking about the situation: “Shitty fucking shit”.

My throat is sore from the yelling.

So the story is I’ve been trying to talk to professors about research, to see if what they’re working on would be something my work would pay for me to go to school for.  I had my first meeting with someone I thought would be who I would be working with, but turns out he doesn’t work in the areas I would have liked to work in anymore.  And I can’t figure out how to phrase what he’s doing into something my work would be willing to pay for.  I kinda knew this going in.  It was a stretch to begin with, but I feel like an arrogant prick when I’m essentially asking “will you take me as a student!”  I have no right to it, and there are plenty of other people better suited than me.  It just feels so presumptuous since none of these people know me, and I have no idea how to ask this in a politically correct way.  It makes me feel like shit wanting something, and asking for it.

I feel like giving up.

Incompetence

So apparently my application for grad school has been sitting on someone’s desk for the past two months and I can’t get a hold of this said person.  I’ve called the admissions office twice and they can’t do anything for some reason.  It’s been pushed to the department and it’s up to the department to accept or reject me.  At this point, I don’t care if they reject me, but I kinda need to know before the semester starts in a few days.  I’ve never seen an  office run so poorly.  I sort of expected some issues with this school, but not this.  Not completely being ignored.  I’ve emailed another person in the department, but who knows if they’ll bother responding.  I’m not sure what to do.  I can just move on, and try to get into another schools program within the next week, or I just sign up for a class as a non degree student and hope I can fix this issue before next semester.  Assuming there will actually be classes for me to take then.  The class I need to take for the program was cancelled due to low enrollment.  Gee, was it because you didn’t bother admitting students who would take the class?  Something is wrong here and I’m fucking pissed off about it.  There is no reason for it and I really don’t need this level of stress.

To Know One’s Self

I am a horrible judge of my own abilities.  I’ve been wanting to write this posts for days, but couldn’t focus long enough to sit in front of the screen.  I’ve been going in circles, trying to figure out what I’m going to do in September.  I’ve been obsessing over my grad school plans again.  I somehow got it in my head that I could go to a top tier school.  I have no idea where that came from.  I never applied there for undergrad because I didn’t think I was anywhere near the level I needed to be for it.  On paper, I looked perfect.  Top of my class, 2 years of junior college down before I even graduated high school.  School awards every year.  But somehow I felt like it didn’t mean anything.  I knew I was just a big fish in a small town. That I could never live up to the standards that the top engineering schools demanded. Again I think it stems from my absolute fear of failure.

So I went to a good Tier 2 school.  One that my mom went to, so I guess I figured if she could do it, I could.  I was offered a full scholarship at the state school but turned it down.  I knew the name brand of the tier 2 school would mean more, and maybe it has.  I doubt I would have the job I do now without it. Problem was, I don’t think I fit in there the way I was supposed to.  I cried everyday for 2 years, think I made a horrible mistake refusing the state school’s offer.  I was alone, commuting 2 hours eveyday to school and home.  I never formed the relationships or developed the social skills I needed to survive in life.  I was probably a much better fit for the Ivy leagues, where I could have lost myself in schoolwork.

I always felt lost at the tier 2 school.  I was lucky to have an adviser who saw some potential in me.  The problem was I never saw it in myself.  I was constantly struggling, against schoolwork, against research, never fully understanding what I was doing.  I was just trying to scrape by and be done with it.  I wish I had the ambition I do now.  I won’t feel like I wasted my time there.  That I could have had more focus and worked harder and kept in touch with those that could help me now.

So with that, I’m still want to go back to grad school.  I must be crazy.  I have the perfect plan to go to the state school that I turned down.  I’ll start a certificate program in the area I want in the fall.  I’ll meet the people I could do research with.  I’ll get a recommendation from the professor so I’ll almost be guaranteed a place there when I apply.  Credit wise, I can be done in a few years, with the certificate courses counting as the bulk of the coursework.  I can get my work to pay for it, since I’ll have a plan and a timeline and contacts at the school.  And I’m fairly confidant if I work as hard as I did before, I would do well there.  It’s perfect.

That was the plan, but then my stupid brain kicks in.  My employer is associated with the Ivy league school, so alot of employees have gone there for classes.  I’ve talked to my supervisor and the Boy about going back to school.  Both think I should go to the Ivy league. This is where my problem of self assessment comes in.  I don’t know if I am even capable of doing the work.  To the outside world, I look like an intelligent person.  That going to this school is just a natural course of action.  But I don’t think these people even know me now, although they know my history and work the best.  If anyone could judge my abilities right now it’s them.  They think I’d be selling myself short by going to the state school.

I took the GRE last week and did OK.  OK enough to actually consider applying to the Ivy.  Again, on paper I look good enough that I actually have a chance at being accepted.  Then again, I may be delusional and just spin the facts to suit the outcome I want.

Now that I’m considering other schools, my plan has been blown apart.  I’ve been working on this for a year and now I feel completely lost.  I know to help my chances to get accepted, I’d have to take classes before applying. That way at least I’ll have something to count towards my degree and hopefully do well enough to get someone to write a recommendation for when I do apply.  But then I don’t know if work will pay for it.  I have no planned coursework, no potential advisor, and an even smaller chance of being accepted. (From a historical perspective, people have gone back to school with their previous advisors, and thesis plans well in place when asking for funding.  I won’t have that).

So I’m stuck.  Do I take a chance and try to take classes at the Ivy or do I stick with the original plan and just start with the state school in the fall?  admittedly, I’m in a much better position mentally than when I was in undergrad (and even when I started this blog 2 years ago).  Self confidence is tall a major issue and I can’t see my abilities objectively enough to figure out if I’m even capable of the work.  There are hundreds of other people trying to do the same thing I am, and I don’t know if I’m better than them, or deserve it more than them.  So until I hit some big revelation, I’m just going to spin my wheels.  At least, until the application deadline rolls around.

Random Thoughts

Sorry I haven’t posted as much.  I’ve had thoughts, but they’re half thoughts.  Stuff I want to get out but I just can’t put into words.  I’ll go through phases of anger and loneliness and alot of self doubt.  I’ve been thinking I’ve been doing ok lately, that things are going well, but then something in my head just snaps and I’m fearful again.  As I’ve mentioned before my clostes friend moved away, and the Boy and I are ok, but don’t see each other often.  I’ve just been dealing with alot of isolation and loneliness, but I’m starting to think I prefer it.  Maybe I just needed a break from everyone.  I’ve 10 days away fromwork and not having to think about my job or coworkers or what they expect from me has been wonderful.  I’m actually ok being away from everyone.  I feel almost peaceful and I dread going back to the 10 hour + commuting work days and bouncing between too much work and trying to look busy.

I had a strong bout of self doubt last night.  I’m been trying to psych myself up to go to night school, and since May I’ve been thinking it would be great.  then I start thinking about the details and I panic.  Im afraid I won’t be committed enought, or my interest will wain like it always does in everything I do.  I’m afraid of the commute, of being in a not so great city at night, of dealing with new people  and afriad of the teachers again.  I was so shy in college that I never spoke to anyone and didn’t make the connections I needed.  I’m afraid I’ll fall into that trap again.

I’m losing focus again.  I’m at a point in my life where the decisions I make now will affect the rest of my life.  I could just stay where I am, doing what I do, but I don’t think that will work in teh long run.  I don’t want to be doing the same job, taking orders from people younger than me.  But I don’t know if I’m management material either.  i don’t know what I am or really what I want.  I just feel like I have to do something, even if it’s to say I tried.  I don’t want to look back and wonder what could have been.  I hate regret.  I am terrified of failure, but I hate not trying.

I worry about the future too much.  I forget to live today.  Sometimes I just want to freeze the minute and live it forever.

Should I go back to grad school?

This question has been at the forefront of my mind the past few weeks.  It’s something that I have thought about since I was in college, but I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of time before I have to make a decision.  It is a 4-8 year commitment, depending on how I do it.  So I’d be in my early to mid thirties when I graduate if I start now.  The reason I’m even debating is that it would change the employlment opportunties I would have.  I already have a masters and I could theortically get most jobs in my field, so I don’t really need it.  The problem is the work I want to do would lend itself to me getting a phd.  I’m just afraid that I will be stuck doing the things I do now at work.  I have almost no way of moving up the ladder at my current job without getting a phd.  But my responisbilies would change dramatically (more management as opposed to doing what the current phds say).

I’m arguing with myself over a number of decisions related to this, so I want to flush them out, one by one.  I’ve been trying to manage all this in my head and I’ve reached the point where I’m just going in circles and I want to just chuck everything out the window.

First Decision:  Do I try to get my phd?
NO: My masters gives me ample opportunity to work in corporate/product development, and I could be a leader if I tried, but I’m not confident enough in myself.  I’m trying to step up more at work, but there are alot of bright people there and I HATE smoozing, like some people to get ahead.  I haven’t figured out how to get the attention of my bosses.  My job is almost secondary compared to what we actually do.  I’m like the support staff for the projects we work on.  To be a real project lead, I should have majored in a related field.
I’m not sure I have the personality to be a successful phd.  It requires a level of confidence and creativietly that I don’t think I have.  I’ve spent my life doing what others have told me to do.  I have no experience being an actual leader.

YES: I can get promoted at my current job, although I may not be a good fit there.  I can get a job elsewhere, and with the phd, I would be more employable in what I want to do: research.  I’ve definitely decided that I don’t want to be in the purely corporate world.  I hate the stress, the mind numbing admin tasks and lack of control.  I’ll gladly work in the R&D department of the same company.  I don’t want to be a code monkey.

So assuming I said yes, to the phd (and if I have to debate this, maybe I should be saying no), there are a number of other questions that come up:

Do I use my current employer’s grad school plan or do it on my own?
Employer Pays: This would therotically be awesome.  I get 4 years off of work and they pay tutition and most of my salary.  But, it’s incrediablly competative and it’s unlikely I would get approval.  Given conversations with my boss, I doubt he’ll be supportive.  He’s alreadly expecting leadership type things from me and I haven’t quite delivered on them.  Until I actually prove I should be promoted, I don’t think he’ll give me the funding to get my phd, since I’ll pretty much have to be, once I have it.  Also, I’d have to prove the phd is in a field that would be useful to my employer.  The problem is my research interests do not really coincide with what they do.  It would be a tough sell.

I Pay:  I’d have to do some of the phd part time at least, since I still need a decent income, but I may have to quit my job once the thesis work picks up.  That terrifies me.  I like the steady source of income, and if I throw that away, I may be making a huge mistake.  On the other hand, this is the only job I’ve had after college.  Few people my age stay with the same empoyer for their entire career.  I have to take a risk at some point in my life.

So assuming I pay, then my options about where and what I study open greatly, along with the questions:

Do I stay in my location, or got to a university where the research is what I like (regardless of location)?:

Go anywhere:  I’ll get to do the research I want! Assuming I even get accepted.  I’ve never left home.  I lived at home while I went for my BA/MA. Hell I still live at home.  I don’t know how my family (read:mother) will handle me just picking up and moving.  She isn’t supportive of me getting my phd (she doesn’t think I need it for my field, and she’s sort of right).  Other than her I have no reason to stick around, but I can’t say I will want to live where the research is.  I can’t focus on just the research.  I need to worry about the rest of my life while I’m there.  complete isolation from everyone I know will be a tough adjustment.

Stay Local:  Some of the best schools in the nation are where I live.  And it would be great to go to one of them, but my odds are acceptance are low, at least in my head.  My grades were good, not great, and I don’t have the 3 recommendations I need to apply.  However I did find two programs that have concentrations in what I want, and I could start part time with the coursework.

So I’m leaning towards staying local, if only for practicality reasons.  The two schools I found offer certificates that I can do after work, and can be applied to my phd coursework if I get accepted.  Even if I don’t apply to those schools, at least I’ll have more experience and maybe a few more recommendations if I do well.

Next question:  which school do I go to?

One private, one state.  I was accepted to the state school as an undergrad and was given the highest scholarship they offer, so I have few concerns about applying.  The private school rejected me as an undergrad, but I belive it was because I tried to transfer, and they typically don’t take transfers.
The issue with the local schools is the research.  They each have very small groups that focus in the area I want, but the work being done doesn’t really appeal to me.  I like the private school’s classes (at least the syllabus looks good).  I couldn’t get detailed info on the public school’s class content.  The phd candidate qualifiers are much easier at the public school and I would have all but 2 classes completed after the certificate.  I would be able to start on research right away, and I would be able to graduate fairly quickly.  The research is really what is stopping me.  It’s mostly robotics, which is tangential to what I want.  I think it’s cool, but I’m afraid my thesis will dictate what jobs I would be eligible for.  That may be a gross oversimplification, but it’s still a concern.  Therotically, I should be able to do most CS things.
The private school doesn’t have much (interesting to me) research, but it seems much more organized.  The private school has a better reputation than the public one.

So this is mostly where I’m at: doing it on my own/stay local/do the certificate part time/local school.

I keep osillating between the two schools and my head starts to spin trying to compare the two.  Then I keep going back up the decision tree and trying out other, less practical/feasible scenarios.  I should probably take a few days/a week off from thinking about it.  I sometimes forget the big picture of why I want to do it.