I burst into tears at Shadow’s house this morning, moments before I was supposed to take Willow to TaeKwonDo. I had been reading the blog of another PhD student, and had been scouring the Minnesota newspapers for places to live, and it was all too much.
“I don’t think I have a strong enough background to be in school with these people.” He says there’s a reason I was accepted into the program, and it’s because I do belong there.
“If I don’t sell my house, I”ll be living out of my car.” “I’m not even sure I can afford to move.” He tells me that things will work out financially (but seriously, if I don’t sell my house, I can’t afford the mortgage AND rent in Minnesota. I will be in serious trouble).
“I’m not sure I’m smart enough.” He tells me that there are few people who think they are smart enough and that we’ve talked about this sense of futility and feeling of being in over our heads and that while part of it may be coming from being from a more disadvantaged background, much of it is just a part of being a doctoral student.
“Maybe I’m too old for this. I’m a decade older than most of the PhD students.” And he reminds me that I’m not too old, that I’m the right age for me to be doing this at this time. That if I had attempted it 15, 10, or even 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready — and that my area of research wouldn’t have meant as much, taken the shape it had, or been as important to me as it is.
But I’m still scared. And I think that’s really what it all boils down to. I’m scared. I’m moving 5000 miles away from my family (this has grown into something akin to a fish story in that the miles from northern Arizona to Minnesota have grown over time so that now Minnesota is really located somewhere around Great Britain).
I started crying in the car today because it was my last time to see Willow in a TaeKwonDo belt test until she goes for her black belt (I told her I will do my absolute best to get home for her black belt test).
This week, I began turning over work to others. I had to sit with my supervisor and discuss the turning over of my beloved faculty to someone else. These people who I really care about and whose courses really matter to me, I have to give over to someone else. Will anyone else care about them the same way I do? Will they know who to give a lot of latitude to and who needs a lot of hands-on care? Will they know who likes to joke and tease and who is very serious and down to business? Will they be able to give the same attention to these faculty members, and care about their courses as I do? And then I realize that it won’t be possible, but I shouldn’t worry about it. The faculty will be fine. They will be in good hands. My colleagues are good at what they do, even when we do it differently (and we are all very individual in how we approach our work).
Then I had to talk about turning over my web maintenance / editorial functions. I’ve been the department editor for all website / collateral / whatever else we’ve needed since I arrived in this department. The website content is my baby. I’ve nurtured it and raised it. The entire content of the FAQ system wasn’t around before I started creating it and then others jumped in and helped populate it. And while I’ve developed a pretty good style guide, the next person (who is more than capable and might even be a better editor than I am), won’t have the same style I do. And the position is being split into two: one editor, one person to convert it to web-enabled content. Both people are really good at what they do and I trust them to do well with it. But it’s still something I’ve really devoted so much time to and will miss doing.
I’m off to do something I’m passionate about. But saying goodbye to people and things I love is hard.