Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Drop That Class and Slowly Back Away

I have decided to drop my Spring class and take the semester off.

After spending eleven days circling the classwork like it was going to bite me, I finally realized that there was no way that I was going to do my best work in that class. The subject didn't interest me and, after the bear of a semester that I had last Fall, I just couldn't see myself slogging through this one just to get through to the end.

I'm not pursuing this degree for professional reasons. This entire enterprise is meant to enrich myself and my life - to stimulate my brain - to cultivate my passions and the joy of learning.

The trouble is that I had become so focused on the work and getting the degree that I'd kinda lost sight of those objectives. The last couple of semesters, I've allowed myself to become too other-directed, dependant upon a syllabus and deadlines to get from one day to the next. During my weeks off, I've felt tremendous stress and anxiety because I didn't have someone to set clear-cut objectives for me.

This is only the second time that I've dropped a course since I began grad school. The first, I waited so long that I was a complete wreck by the time that I made the decision. The textbooks wound up flung against a far wall, their spines shattered. It was ugly but not senseless violence. It had become necessary for me to forcibly extricate myself from that particular class.

This time it was quite a bit different. I opened the syllabus and immediately realized that there were other things that I could be doing with my time - even if nothing sprang to mind. Still, I completed the first three writing assignments and prepared to hunker down and just get through the class.

That was when I realized that:
1) The material really didn't speak to my interests
2) I'd already written these three essays several times before, for earlier classes
3) This lack of enthusiasm showed in my writing
4) The professor either sensed this or simply didn't like my writing style. (Either way, I could expect a rather low grade which would ruin my GPA, which is stupid to worry about in grad school - but still....)

Withdrawing from class was a difficult decision but, ultimately, it was based on the fact that I only have three classes left in the program before graduation. One of those classes is in a required category, so there's little I can do about that one. But the other two are in my main area and I really want them to count!

I want them to engage me and fill me with joy!

I want to jump out of bed every morning, excited to work!

I want to love the research!

I want to feel transformed on a cellular level!

Maybe, next semester.........