The guilt--advice? Do I keep going? Do I just get out?(8 Posts)
I'm approaching 40. I have about a year to go to finish my PhD, and I hold a teaching position while I'm doing it. That teaching position is nominally two days a week, but you know how that story goes! I have been working professionally in my field for >10 years, and I keep seeing jobs advertised that would give me (probably) less intellectual stimulation, but (definitely) more money than I could make for at least two years post PhD. I have two small children, 5 and nearly 2. I am the career oriented one in my partnership, and the one who will be primary breadwinner.
The challenge I have is this: I WANT to be an academic. There is a good chance I will land a job. I feel SO guilty though, about the money (in terms of lost potential earnings) and time in vested in this venture. What the heck do I do?
Presumably you all agreed to this course of action a few years ago when you started the PhD. So what's changed? Why did it seem like a good plan then and not now? I think you need to go back to why you wanted to do this and it made sense before, and remind yourself of that goal. You can lose focus just before the final year very easily.
It's a hard slog towards the end.
At the end of my PhD I also saw lots of jobs advertised in my previous career, and constantly thought I should take those. I even applied to one or two (half-heartedly though, I must admit). I was in a slightly different situation as I had my first child just after I finished my PhD. My partner was in a corporate job which he has never really enjoyed which kept us financially afloat for quite a few years. I felt guilty about that.
BUT seven years later, I earn more money that I would have done in my previous career, with greater autonomy and flexibility, and much more interest in the job. That is partly because I have engineered a situation in which I make more than my salary via consultancy work, but still ... there's a lot wrong with academia, but on the whole I am really glad I kept going.
Good luck whatever you decide.
If you were a man, I somehow doubt you would be wondering about this. You would see it as your right.
Thank you all for your responses. HouseholdWords I suspect you're right that if I was a man I wouldn't think about it, but that doesn't mean I want to parent with the disregard for my kids I see in some men! I think I need to stop dithering and commit to finishing--and honestly, I am so close! I could probably be done in six months if I could carve out space, and I have just finished my first semester teaching (not in UK), so feeling more-that-usually wrecked. Thank you all for your kindness.
Hang on in there! The final push is, much like childbirth, the moment when your brain starts screaming 'I don't want to do this! I've changed my mind!' Presumably those higher-paying career options will still be there once you've finished your PhD. So if the guilt prevails in a couple of years time then you can always jump career tracks. But at least if you wait until then to make the decision you'll be making it with all the options open to you.
Just get it done. A nearly finished PhD will be like a millstone around your neck. You'll be that person who says "oh yes I started a PhD but...." and people will feel pity. For the sake of knuckling down for a few months it'll be worth it for your own self esteem if nothing else.
Get it done and think again then if necessary. Close friend of mine came within a year of finishing hers and has never forgiven herself for not seeing it through.
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