My life feels like it has been one long trajectory along The Breakfast Club plot line — except that I’m outside of the outsiders, beyond the recluse. High school was definitely like this. Even my undergraduate life was like this. I was never a traditional student. I worked full-time while attending school and had to often quit classes when work required me to be more focused on it than school. It took me a lot longer to get my undergraduate degree than most people because of this, making me even more different than those I went to school with.
During my Master’s degree, I again worked full-time, but I was working at a University. My supervisors, wonderful people that they are, allowed me to take time off to go to classes when the classes weren’t offered online. But I didn’t teach, as many other grad students did, and I didn’t engage with the students outside of class. I was much too busy to do that.
My doctoral degree has been different. For the first time in my life, education has been the main focus. It came first. I was being paid to make it come first. I got to teach classes. I got to be a part of a department. But maybe because of my past, I never quite fit in. There are definite cliques in the program of which I’m not a part. I rarely see anyone from my department, nor do I socialize much at all. I see photos of them getting together, the connections they’ve all made, and the ways they’ve become integral parts of one another’s lives. I’ve heard that one of the most important parts of getting your doctorate is the relationships you make while doing it — because those people have persevered with you throughout, that they will be lifelong friends. I didn’t or haven’t made those kinds of connections. I doubt many of the people I’ve gone to school with here will have much to do with me after I leave (they don’t now, so it’s safe to assume they won’t after).
I’m not a lonely person – just the opposite. I’m quite happy being alone. And I have a hard time being comfortable around others, so I tend to turn to my family because they are safe and will forgive my foibles. But every once in a while, especially when I see photos posted on Facebook or Twitter, I wonder what I’ve missed out on and if, when I go into the next stage of my life, it will be any different.
Or will I still be watching from outside the library as the brain, the beauty, the jock, the rebel, and the recluse find ways to connect and integrate themselves with one another?