So, a lot of people know I went back to grad school this past fall. I’d tried to go in 2013, and ended up leaving due to what I thought at the time was just bad headspace brought on by a lot changes – job ending, cat dying, trying to start a new job, etc.
So I was trying again.
This was a horrible decision.
Not because I’m not smart, capable, etc. I know I am (even when I don’t feel it.)
Not because it was a bad program. Wayne’s MLIS is a great program with many fine and fantastic grads. Through both times I tried it, out of 5 teachers, I only had one bad experience. Granted, she was spiteful, punitive, and singlehandedly brought me to the edge of a nervous breakdown, but she’s also adjunct, and thus hardly representative of the faculty.
But it was absolutely, without a doubt, the absolute wrong place for me. For a lot of reasons.
- Wrong format: This was the primary pitfall, for me – the program is almost entirely online. I have never been good with interacting with people online. There are a lot of introverts who are better with online interactions than in person, and I am absolutely not one of them. Chat I can manage, but asynchronous interactions like discussion boards – I am total crap at this. I forget to check, I forget to post, I glaze over too often when reading things by people whose faces I cannot see.
As much as dealing with people is not my favorite thing in the world, I need to be able to see people – see the way they talk, they way their eyes light up, the way they move their hands – and hear them – the modulations in their voice that indicate confusion or excitement – to really connect with a discussion. Lack of people-contact also makes lectures extraordinarily difficult for me. Watching a powerpoint slide show go by and listening to someone just doesn’t cut it – I end up focusing a *lot* on all the wrong things, and getting very little out of the lecture.
For me, discussion is where it’s at. That’s when I learn best, when I can talk out ideas and concepts. ADD can make reading textbooks difficult – discussion helps me understand what ADD causes me to miss in the readings.
- Bad preparation: I struggle with depression and anxiety. I don’t use that verb lightly.- it is a literal fight, with myself, every damn day. It’s all documented, but I have never asked for accommodation – I never thought I needed it, in college. In hindsight, I know that’s not so, and I’ve known for a good long time that high school would have turned out very differently had I had accommodations, had i known what I even needed.
That, right there, is the issue. I know I need accommodations, I know I’m eligible for them, and I know how to go about asking – I’m just not even sure what I should be asking for. I’ll be talking to someone about that, eventually, to help identify strategies that would actually help. I think one of them would be time to talk to either the teacher or a tutor, to talk out the readings and make sure I understand them. Beyond that? THat’s something I need to figure out, most likely with the help of someone who can ‘see’ my deficiencies with more objectivity and scope than I can.
- Wrong time: Library and Info Science is a great discipline, and I can see an alternate version of myself – maybe younger, maybe older, I don’t know – being very happy and fulfilled in this. But the reality is that it’s not what I’m interested in right now – it’s what I’m good at. Being good at it already is not enough for me, and the challenges that it presents are primarily trivial (as imposed to interesting – that is, they’re not unimportant, they’re just not particularly vital, to my mind,) And the reality is that, with my ADD, if it’s not interesting to me in an immediate and vibrant way, I’m going to struggle.
(I can’t discount that maybe it’s the way the program handles it, either, There’s always the chance that somewhere down the road I may go back to the discipline in another program. But at present, I doubt it.)
- Wrong discipline: a.k.a., I’m a great big fat hypocrite. I realized, at one point, that all of my language about doing this was ‘it’s a useful degree,’ ‘it capitalizes on knowledge and capabilities I already have,’ ‘I’ll be able to take it anywhere,’ and worst of all: “it’s practical.’
Here’s the thing: I already have practical skills. I have 20 years of admin and database experience. I will always be able to find a job – as an admin. With an MLIS, I would move up a few rungs, maybe change environments, but it would still be similar work.
That I don’t really want.
What use getting better and more sophisticated at something that doesn’t, in itself, make me happy?
So, what’s next? I have some ideas. I have some plans, but for right now, I need to take a step back and grieve my failures. I think it’s important to do that, so that when I do move forward with my next project, I can do so without the spectres of this experience haunting me, dogging my steps and biting my heels until I fall again. I don’t want to have learned nothing from all of this.
So for the next little while, I will couch it up with my cats, read a library’s worth of fiction, knit until my fingers fall off, binge watch Person of Interest, and actually see real people who I adore and have conversations with them that aren’t about my own misery and guilt. That should be a nice change of pace.