unravelling at night what she had woven during the day, as a clever ploy to “buy time” and stave off hungry suitors - Odyssey

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that's my experience

From: Excellent Person <excellent.person@gmail.com> 
Subject: Re: Happy holidays
Date: 23 December, 2012 10:10:48 AM EST
To:  Friend

Hello beautiful,

I miss the snow! I haven't had a white Xmas since I was 13 and I do miss them. I love when the snow is fresh and white and no cars have spoiled it on the road with their grey grit; the only marks are footprints from the sidewalks to the homes or in the yards.

It seems as if we have both had similar life challenges to approach recently. I will tell you about what my decisions have been and perhaps that can give you some context.

I have decided to withdraw from my PhD and will be returning to our home country in February. I ultimately decided to do this because in the self reflection I have been doing since April I have come to realise that I don't have passion or hope for my work or my field. My main driver has been that I am very talented in this area and have been able to coast with very little effort in a occupation which affords me a great deal of praise and admiration. This allowed me to construct a narrative for myself in which I had a passion for my work. I have realised though that I harbour a lot of self resentment and feelings of phoney-ness towards myself as a result. My work has not been a labour of love and I am thus not proud of it. 

That is not to say I don't find my field beautiful. I do: I think that there is nothing with more cold, sharp beauty. I am grateful that I understand it to a high level and I hope to convey that beauty to others throughout my life (perhaps I will end up as a teacher in the end). 

I have decided to withdraw from academia for reason related to those expounded (in a very perceptive if disparaging way) by your friend. Of course they are only reason for withdrawal if you feel that the negatives of an academic life are not worth the myriad positives. I feel that my field is a dying one and I do not believe that anything of significance will arise from it in the coming decades. Although that is my honest assessment I do sincerely hope I am wrong. In addition to my personal feelings towards the field I have decided that it is not worth it for me. I guess the ultimate question you have to ask yourself is: supposing I dedicate the next decade of my life to this field and I ultimately do not get a permanent position will I be happy that at least I tried? For me I can confidently answer no.

In the end either way you end up with high levels of qualification and will certainly be able to find some occupation to live on. It sounds to me like you have passion for your work and I think then that you should follow that. We are too young to worry about careers and mortgages and the like (unless of course that is desired as it is for some people). I've learned that people almost always know the decision they want to make way before they consciously realise it. Chances are you already know what you want to do, you just have to admit it to yourself. At least that has been my experience.

Anyways, hopefully my situation will help inform yours. Since I have decided to leave I am excited about the future for the first time in awhile. Your holidays sound fantastic and I hope you enjoy them very much.

Excellent Person


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