Imbalance

When I was in college, I had the privilege to attend an Associated Students leadership retreat. I had helped to found a community service organization, which earned me that seat at that learning opportunity.

ASI Logo

[Author’s Note: Thinking about it now, why did I not exploit this fact to its fullest? I don’t think I ever mentioned that leadership position on any resume or grad school application. What was with me?]

What I remember most about the whole retreat was the goal setting workshop. We had to spell out our professional and personal goals. Being me, I took the assignment seriously and went about outlining my future career and academic goals. After I made my presentation of goals, I remember hearing people comment in stage whispers that I obviously misunderstood the assignment because I didn’t list any leisure activities. In my mind, academics were considered a personal pleasure. They were my entire life as an undergrad. I spent my Friday and Saturday nights studying. I think I went to a grand total of one party during my entire academic career, and that was when I was dragged by a friend. (Thank you, LRT!)

I became more honest with myself and others when I was in grad school the second time: I flat out told everyone that those twelve intensive months were my year-long vacation. Once people got to know me better, they realized I meant it, and I think it scared them a little. Classes started in August, and I didn’t take my first whole day off until April – I even studied every day during the Christmas Break. I am quite proud to say that my grades reflected that hard work.

Very few things in my life have held my passion for as long or as strongly as academics. From time to time I do toy with the idea of going back again, but I haven’t found anything that would be worth the dedication involved. Maybe hearing my little sister’s stories of her PhD program have the memory of how hard it really is stuck in my head. That part fades, much like what I’ve been told happens with childbirth.

If you love what you do, is it really an imbalance? or Has anyone found a way to make going to school a full-time professional that pays well?

8 thoughts on “Imbalance”

  1. I don’t think there is anything wrong with putting academics as a big part of your future goals. Those are important things. I’d probably put something similar in my goals. Although it wouldn’t be a part of any formal schooling, I would put down a lot of learning goals. That’s something I love to do. Those people might have responded to me in a similar way and told me to fill it up with other leisure activities. I do like my leisure time, but learning is important to me. I find it fun.

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that finds learning fun. I wish I could find a way to earn money to learn full-time, especially in the formal setting where I perform so well. I guess I will have to find a way to always be exploring new things in the real world!

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  2. Well, I’ve certainly managed to make school a full-time pursuit several times, but sadly, I haven’t found anyone who will pay me to do it. People have trouble understanding that for some, academics is an end in itself. For me, learning is absolutely the most enjoyable activity there is. In the university environment, it has the combined effect of endurance training, cultural immersion, and drug-induced euphoria. I function mentally and physically at a much higher level, feeding off the energy around me, and constantly pushing myself to meet the challenges. Last time I did the university thing was 2003-2008. I do remember the work being hard, and I wanted it to be difficult, because I was paying to learn something! When it wasn’t hard enough, I’d double up on courses or take Winter session classes, anything just to keep the momentum going. Perhaps I do have a sort of addictive personality, but I figure if this is the thing I got addicted to, I am pretty darn lucky.

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    1. What you described was my experience in academia as well! There definitely is that endurance element and the striving, constantly striving to be even better than you ever imagined you could be.

      In grad school, you tell those of us who were paying for it ourselves versus those going on Bank of Dad. The latter group were often skipping class and seldom read the work for that day’s lecture. The rest of us had read every page, watched the supplemental video, and were there with a list of questions!

      It is a beautiful addiction we both have. Now, if only we could find patrons to help us maintain this “high” all the time!

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  3. Seems we have a trend here…if I could go to school for a living, I would do it. I love the process and I love learning. Just can’t seem to figure out how to get anyone to foot the bill for it…hmm. I am finding myself with an itch to go back again, but stuck in a holding pattern until we see what happens with my husband’s job search and whether he needs to go back. Many unanswered questions up in the air. In the meantime, I find ways to learn on my own because I think I would explode otherwise.

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    1. They probably don’t pay people to be full time students because too many people would take them up on it, leaving no one to actually do the work that needs to get done!

      I fully understand your feeling that you would explode without learning. If my learning level becomes stagnant, I get really fussy and can’t settle down. I wish I was disciplined enough to do self-paced learning. I need the deadlines and the instructor to impress or it doesn’t work for me.

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  4. I loved being in school and thought I would make a career of it as a research professor, but then I decided not to for various reasons. Learning is still a passion of mine, but it has become an aspect of all the things I am interested in. I am constantly learning how to be a better parent, how to talk to my husband, how to be a good friend. I found that I enjoy this type of learning better than I loved academics.

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