down in my heart.


Down in my heart!

We taught English in Cambodia last year and this was one of the songs that our (adult) students adored.  They also loved to play musical chair-body-parts, where you stop the music and call out a body part and they have to put the body part on the chair.  I have video.  It’s awesome.  But I can’t post it, cause that would be a breech of…something.  I just wouldn’t feel right about it.  But those early mornings (class started at, like 5:45 or something….yes, am) were awesome with the body parts musical chairs.

That is so not the point of my post.

Yesterday was the weirdest day.  I woke up, and I felt like I’d been run over by a Mack truck (only I bet people HAVE been run over by a Mack truck, and probably the results were worse than what I was feeling, so I feel like perhaps I am diminishing their experience) – and I realized that both the dog AND DB were gone, which was suspect.  Imagine my joy at having a husband that would take out the dog, even though I have nowhere to be – just so I can sleep later to feel better?  Yes.  I love him.

So after sleeping for 12 hours (maybe more, who knows) (yes, I know those of you with kids are envious.  I will also say that I am pretty sure if I was that sick with kids, DB would have taken a sick day to watch the kid(s) so I could have slept, too.  Really, I am not embarrassed about my 12 hours), I woke up, and I found out that that FBI agent had been killed, and that was really sobering.

And then I went to class.

At the school where I left my doctoral program in public health.  (I have to take a class there to finish a master’s degree – it’s a class doctoral students don’t normally take.)

To truly have an understanding of my situation, you would need to read this, this, and this (2nd half of post), and those might not even do it for you.  But let’s just say that I really lamented this decision, and many people were not supportive of the decision.  I left after 4 years of pain and agony at this program, 1 year of full-time work, and 1 year of cultivating some friendships with the people in my cohort.  And at the end of the year, I decided that I absolutely. did. not. want. to. finish.

The rationale behind this is all amply described in that other post (if you’re really interested).

So last night, I’m in this class, which is, incidentally, a Very Agonizing Class for me because I’ve already TAKEN it.  At another school.  And it’s required for me to get a master’s degree (my accidental masters, just to get SOMETHING out of the doctoral work), and it’s required that I take it AT THIS SCHOOL, which just goes to the heart of why I am a little frustrated with this school, but whatever.  So I decide in the middle of the lecture that I Really Need A Snack, and while I was standing at the vending machine (filled with Fake Healthy Snacks – the kind that taste like cardboard and make the public health people feel like we are making ourselves healthier, when in reality they are just grossness) debating what Fake Healthy Snack to buy (I picked some Snackwells cookies – which were gross.  Although I used to like them.  I am so evolved now on my food opinions…if I’m going to eat crap, I really want to eat Real Crap, not fake stand-in crap.  For dinner, I ate Doritos and yogurt.  Hey, dude, it’s protein, ok?) OK – so I was standing there, debating, and my old colleagues came up, super excited that I was there.

“RACHEL!!!!!  You’re BACK!”  – which always is very good for my self-esteem.  Because I am not that cool, so when people get excited about me, I think, “hey!  They think I’m cool!”  – don’t we all think this?  Because now I will feel like a total loser.

And here is where I am going to purposely insert an aside.  I’ve often wondered in the last few months whether this decision – the decision to abandon my plan to get a doctorate in public health – was a bad one.  I mean, in the beginning, yeah, it was all joyous and exciting and I was Walking On Air, but then the reality hit:  I have a lame job, and after being expected to think critically in doctoral-level coursework, I am now taking…undergraduate biology and physics, and being expected to regurgitate facts.  And oh, did I mention my lame job?  Society isn’t exactly awed by what I’m doing right now.

And if I’m honest, I will say that it is ALL about what society thinks that impacts how I see myself, which is just WRONG and I feel incredible guilt about that, but it’s true.  I would love to be able to say, “I feel that God spoke to me and said, ‘Rachel, leave your doctoral program now'”, but I’d be lying.  I don’t disparage people’s experiences of that – at ALL – but I feel in my situation that God could have used me with a doctorate in public health and God would have celebrated my departure from the program.  I don’t think that God really CARED one way or another whether I left my program – what I believe is that He CARED how I used my skills.  Which really puts the burden back on me, right – the burden to live for Him?  This is the spiritual version of lemonade making from lemons.

So I’ve often wondered, “Was that the right decision?  Is that the most God-honoring decision?”  – and my posts over the last few months have been about things like careers and motherhood, and depression over my pathetic lack of job, etc.

And then we had last night.

And my friends came up to me.

And I said, “How are things going here?!?” – and they said, “[qualifying*] exam…blah blah blah…oral exam…blah blah blah…oh I am so stressed…things are OKAY….dissertation…”

And I thought, Oh, I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so happy!  I don’t need to do those things!  I am free of this place!  This totally oppressive, humiliating (not humbling – that is different – no, this place was hellacious) place!  I AM FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joy.  Unadulterated joy.

(And I told them that.  I don’t think they were nearly so excited as I was to find out that I had achieved some sort of freakish nirvana.)

(Although I did emphasize to them that if we were to switch places, they would not be nearly so happy, because that program is right for them.  And it is not right for me.)

(That didn’t really help much.)

It was a totally redeeming experience.

What I am thankful for:  The balls to make a humongous decision that was right for me, and that everyone else discouraged.  I think everyone should do this at least once in their lifetimes.  It is totally liberating.

*AKA comprehensive exam, or comps.  Different schools call them different things.  My school doesn’t use either of these terms.

**You will need a password for the third post.  Let me know if you need it.