…thank God Almighty, I’m free at last. And I don’t mean free from my students. Rather, I mean free from being one, at least for a while.
After months of introspection and weeks of careful thought, last night I decided to withdraw from my doctoral program. I have spoken to family (although not all of them yet) and a few close friends (not all yet), and so far, none have labeled me a quitter or a failure. So far, so good.
Thing is, I will be 50 years old in August. In the hopefully 20-some years I have left, I want to live a good part of my life away from this box. Sure, there’s a downside:
- I’ve spent a lot of money on coursework.
- I failed to achieve a goal I set out to accomplish. That does bother me.
- I’m afraid I have disappointed people who thought better of me.
But fiends, I gotta tell ya. The upside wins.
- First, and most importantly: I will not have to spend the next 3-6 months studying every day and every night, followed by up to 2 more years of grinding out research for the dissertation, during which time my grandsons will be growing up without me.
- I have learned gobs in the classes I’ve taken, and much of it is stuff I actually use.
- My masters degree is not in music. But the one I will earn from BU upon successful completion of a curriculum project will be. Therefore, I’ll end up with two masters: one in curriculum & instruction, and the other in music. Not sucky by any stretch.
- If I want to continue the DMA, I will drive to Cleveland in the summers. If I want to.
- I am happy teaching high school. And since my district does not give a pay raise for a PhD, I’m at the top of the food chain on the salary schedule for my experience. In other words, I can’t make any more money on grad school work.
- And speaking of money: I’d likely take at least a $10,000 annual pay cut in the event I would be hired full time in this economy at a nearby university.
- With the exception of rehearsals for our shows every year, my evenings and weekends will be free. What will THAT be like? Lawd. I’ve no clue. But I will enjoy finding out.
- I can spend lots of time with family and friends. I can also actually do some gardening in the summers, and travel a little if I want to.
So, I’m thinking, is there a downside? Probably. And admittedly, I do worry about people being disappointed in me. But like some friends and family have told me, the people who matter will understand. Those who don’t…well, you can’t stop what people think and say. As a textbook insecure artist, I need to wrap my reptilian brain around that fact; embrace it. I’m trying, believe it.
At any rate, the most important thing is that a) I feel really good about this decision, and b) my family and friends are very supportive so far.
I’m off to Columbus today with Mavis, Hannah and little Justin. Is that great or what?
Fink out (of the woods).