Sunday, September 28, 2008


When I got here, I had resolve. I really did.

And then I saw the announcement for an audition for West Side Story.


Needless to say, I went. Because I'm more addicted to performing than Paris Hilton is to fame. I promised myself that I was done, that I was retired from performing, that I'm now officially an academic. But then I realized something. Pursuing one thing professionally doesn't have to mean sacrificing who you are. I started thinking about this the other day when I was having dinner with Ashley, my next door neighbor. I mentioned to her that I really liked everyone in my course, and I think I'll be able to be friends with all of them. Her response was, "well yeah, except that as soon as classes start you're all in competition with each other for either grant money or Ivy League PhD slots, so you don't really have room to be kind to them." And she's right. She's absolutely right-we are each other's competition.

And I refuse to be that way.

Of course I will always do my best, and I will always try as hard as I can to be thorough in my research. But if someone wants help with a translation, I'll give it to them. If someone doesn't have time to do the reading, I'll give them my notes. I have tried to make kindness a part of who I am as much as possible (whether I've succeeded or not is for you to decide, not me), and I don't want to give up that part of who I am in pursuit of a career goal. Just as I don't want to give up performing for it. I love academia, and I really, truly do want to get my doctorate, get tenure, write something groundbreaking, all that stuff. I do. But not at the expense of my identity. I won't give up my thoroughly non-competetive nature, and I won't give up my hobbies.

Maybe that makes me silly. Maybe that's the formula that makes people who were almost successful, but in the end didn't quite have that extra edge. Maybe. But to me, all the success in the world isn't worth giving up the pieces of myself that I love the most. So I've decided, from now on, I will be a non-competitive academic who sings and dances when she could be doing extra research. That's who I am making a choice to be. And oddly, even though nothing's really changed, I feel better knowing that. More confident. I'm determined as hell to make it in this program, but at least I know that whatever happens, I'll emerge from it on the other side the same person I was when I went in.

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