Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Apologies

When people ask me about my education, I don't say I have a Master's degree (along with a certificate in Trans-Atlantic Studies, in case you were wondering).

It's true, but it's not what I say. I say I dropped out of grad school.

That's true, too. And it's what is more true in terms of what it taught me about life, and about not feeling shame for something that other people disapprove of.

Being from an academic family, I was getting my PhD like I was supposed to. The friends I made there were great. The social science research, not so much. Not for me.

Without letting anyone talk me out of it, I left at the end of my second year. No apologies and no regrets. It wasn't for me, so I wasn't going to stay just because it was the safe path or to please anybody else.

Fast forward to a couple years later: I'd moved to one of my favorite cities, was working at a great organization while finishing an art program that led to a job I love, had met the love of my life, was spending time developing photographs at a community darkroom, and was starting to write on a novel that went on to be awarded a writers grant and led to me getting to know the other Pens.

And if I'd stayed in grad school because I was embarrassed to have failed or to have let anyone down? I wouldn't have gotten any of it. I don't apologize for dropping out.



Sophie Littlefield said...

That was a brave decision. I remember the first time you told me that - with such matter-of-factness my first response was to admire you for it.

Funny thing about truth. When delivered without apology, it often seems to be received just fine. :)

Juliet Blackwell said...

I'm with you, Gigi. I dropped my dissertation in anthropology when I couldn't answer the simple question: why are you getting the degree, again? The only reason I could come up with was that I'd already spent so much time on it...which is a reason, just not a very good one. I learned a lot in those years, and enjoyed much of it, and don't regret my time in academia. But neither do I regret leaving that rarefied world--I've had so much more fun since!

Unknown said...

Expectations -- whether lofty or diminished -- can really cloud a person's vision, eh?

You go girl. Can't imagine any other Gigi but the one we're lucky enough to know!!!


Unknown said...

with purely selfish reasoning, i am thrilled that you dropped out :)