Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm an Ink Blot

I'm kind of like a projective test ~ you can tell a lot about people by their reactions to me.
Not necessarily me as a person- more about my accomplishments (aka., those initials after my name).

A little background... as you may have noticed, I'm working on my PhD. I just finished my Masters a little over a month ago- 10 days shy of my 25th birthday.
While, yes, I am proud (I busted my butt, and I went through a lot in the months prior to get to that point), I don't say this because it's anything I really feel the need to brag about. It's a choice I made, for better or for worse, and it's just kind of what I do (and what I think I am supposed to being doing).

But other people seem to view it in all sorts of random ways.

Some imbue me with some sort of magical wisdom and intelligence. I must truly be insanely brilliant to have done this. Although this may seem at first like a complement, I actually find it insulting to ignore the notion of absurd amounts of hard work. Brains are nice and everything, but they won't get you anywhere in my program unless you are willing to survive off of little sleep and living in front of a computer.

Other seem to focus on what characteristics I must lack.
"Anyone with that of dedication surely must be a social outcast."
"She must really feel like her life is missing something."
"She will really be sad when she realizes that, no matter how many degrees she has, she hasn't really experienced life. "
These people have no sense of who I really am.
I guess it's pretty difficult to reconcile the idea that I do still have a social life and external interests with being a young grad student. What these people don't seem to realize is that I remain a reasonably typical 25 year old. I get stupid drunk with my friends and decide to run shoeless through wet fields. I have travelled to 3rd world countries (okay, "country", technically). I go to live shows. I go to the beach. I shop for silly shoes. I've lived in different cities. Boys like me (and I really like one of them). I'm not a hopeless loser by default, and I certainly don't feel like I haven't lived. I've lived a hell of a lot more than a lot of the people who criticize me.

Fitting with this is those who focus more on me being female. What am I going to do about children?
"You know, when I was 25, I had two kids and had been married for 4 years."
"You're going to have to start breeding as soon as you get that PhD!" (okay, few people actually use the term breeding in conversation)

Or else they focus on how this will emasculate my poor future husband.
"How is he going to deal with you making more money than him?"
"How will he feel about being Dr. and Mr.?"

It's also a hell of a charmer at the bar. I actually admire the man who will continue a conversation with me upon hearing that I'm a grad student. Usually, the average 20 year old (I unfortunately barely pass for 19) will slowly back away, despite how much of a "slammin' hottie" I was two minutes earlier. (okay, again, same with the term breeding, no one has ever actually called me a "slammin' hottie". I don't even know what that means. But you get my drift.)

My favourite, though, is those who go on the defensive. Their first response when they hear about me is to explain in detail why they don't have a masters degree. This really bugs me- by virtue of me deciding to get one, I think that everyone in the planet should do the same. I actually think university education, as a general rule, is highly overrated, and that people shouldn't pay money for school unless they really feel passionate about what they are studying. They also might lament how pointless their lives are and how they've accomplished so little. Sorry that I'm working towards my own goals- but I swear I'm not doing it to give you an inferiority complex.


LMizzle said...

I loved this particular post. It makes me want to write about why I got my degree.
I usually get the, "why would you go to school to make no money?" or, "are you going to be a professional volunteer?" as questions.
Yes. That's right you dumbasses. I went to school to make absolutely no money. I plan on using bits of string as currency in exchange for goods and services.

Ant said...

PhD's are one of the most highly-charged subjects you can have a discussion about. And it catches people unawares because on the face of it, it seems to be a fairly inocuous subject...

My observations are that those without one spend most of the time defensively justifying why they don't have one because they "couldn't see the point".

To which the PhD-possessor reacts angrily because they've just spent three or four years of their life working damn hard to get this qualification.

Working in a university I see this conversation unfold all the time. (Though I don't have one - couldn't see the point really... :op)

Kudos to you for getting one. Who gives a shite how people react - as long as you're a slammin' hottie, that's all that matters... :o)

Princess Pointful said...

Lmizzle- It's funny how, on the surface, everyone agrees that going to university is the right thing to do. Yet these same people see it as the right thing, not because of passion or drive or thinking skills, but because of financial rewards.
They actually have that pretty wrong, though- if they are really looking at financial benefits, society should be valueing going to trade school.
Though there's times I wish my passions lay in welding.

Ant- I'm glad there's someone here who sees what's truly vital- my appearance ;). That's what pays the bills, baby! (yeah right- I am sadly over the hill at 25 for such industries- I have to get an education!).
I guess what really gets me is how people use their own experiences to try and determine my motivations, and then critique said motivations. I'm beginning to realize more and more that people will always claim to have a say in your life, despite the fact that your decisions don't impact them on any level outside of providing interesting gossip.

LMizzle said...

Yeah there was one time when I was in a Business Communications class and this old fart of a woman said, "Oh what are you taking?" and I said, "nonprofit studies," to which she told her friend, "yeah, she'll make $7 for every $30 we make."

Pfft, eat my ass you scabby cunt! At least I can go home at the end of the day knowing I've made a difference!

I imagine that you generally aren't calling people scabby cunts when they talk to you about your PhD...

Princess Pointful said...

And isn't the honest truth of your situation that you are actually not doing too shabby in your job?
It's funny- people who think they have employable degrees often don't. I have friends with the all valued science degree who can't find work, yet I was able to find relevant jobs with my psych degree (although not exceedingly high paying, they weren't minimum wage, either).

Scabby cunts is a delightfully disgusting image. I think I will repeat it in my head when next time someone patronizes me and giggle to myself.