Thursday, June 16, 2011

On Taking Risks part II

Earlier this year I took a risk that felt scary.
It was scary for me to apply to a PhD program for a few reasons.

I have a child to support and I am lucky enough to have a secure job. To start the PhD, I am cutting my income down by two thirds.

The logistics scared me because I am going to attend McGill, in Montreal, but I want my son's life to be as little disrupted as possible. I want him to stay in the same neighbourhood and school, close to his dad, who lives on the same street as me.

I also had to face an entrenched fear about the writing that is going to be required. When I was doing my Master's thesis, I got into a morass where I alternated between frantic unproductive writing and sitting at my computer writing nothing at all. For the first time in my life, I felt what it is to be sick to my stomach because of anxiety. I used to think about throwing myself down the stairs to hurt myself just enough but not too much. Finally I realized that I needed a metaphorical rather than a literal break. And when I came back, I finished my degree with coursework. But my failure to write the thesis haunted me.

It's the third fear that kept me from pursuing a PhD earlier. But ironically, I have spent the ten years since developing expertise in the field of Writing Studies precisely because of that failure to write.  And my area of specialization as a PhD student is going to be Writing Studies!

I'm not sure why, but now I find I have the courage to do this.

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