Saturday, April 05, 2003

I seem to have developed a blister on the tip of my left index finger from playing the mandolin. Humph. Silly wimpy un-callused fingers.
You know, figuring one’s life out is not an easy thing to do. That’s the reason I came up here to Portland – to try something new and see if that helped me sort out some of the old problems. I’ve realized after nine months here that that’s really not something you can plan to do; you can’t say "I’m going to take a year off, and at the end of that year all of my issues will be reconciled and I’ll be ready to go back to where I was, problem free." No, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

The main thing I wanted to sort out this year was my relationship to school – why I’m following the track I’m following, what kind of effort I want to put into it, and what I want to get out of it. After two quarters away from Stanford, these questions have receded into the background, yielding to the larger question of Am I even ready for this at all? I think I wrote some time back in February about not being clear in my major or the direction I want to take in school, and since then the frustration has increased rather than subsided. I find myself dreading questions about where I am in school and how I like my major, because I don’t know how to answer them; I find myself racking my brains for positive things to say, and then inevitably add something along the lines of "but I have no idea what I want to do with it, and I have to take a ton of icky classes that are no fun at all." I can’t be giving these people a positive endorsement of the program with this response.

It’s not just Stanford that I’m sticking at. I can’t even seem to handle community college. Of course, that’s a part of the Stanford thing, since I’ve just been taking classes to transfer back into the Earth Systems major there, but I thought that community college would at least be a little easier to deal with. Not so. Over the last two quarters I have experienced a return of the school-related depression that I experienced freshman year. It wasn’t fun then, and it’s not fun now. It wasn’t too noticeable fall quarter, and I brushed it off as adjusting to a new place and a new system, and assured myself that it would pass. Last quarter it was far worse, and just the thought of registering for classes this quarter brought this huge cloud of doom over my head that warned me there was something bigger going on than just wishing I could have homework-free weekends. I just don’t seem to be able to convince myself that I should continue to charge blindly down a road with an unknown destination. And, in the case of Stanford, that’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on something I don’t know if I’m ready for. Especially when I can’t seem to remember anything I learn in school; it just seems like an enormous expenditure for the purpose of receiving a special piece of paper at the end of four years (or longer).

As much as I’d like to tell myself that I’ve been living my life for me and that it doesn’t matter what other people think, I feel that I’ve been constructing my process of higher education on the foundations of "shoulds" piled upon me from all sides, rather than actual personal inclination or motivation. I hated my first year at Stanford and almost didn’t go back, but couldn’t quite overcome the "should" factor, or rather, the "most definitely should not" factor. At that point it was also easier to just go back than to find something else to do instead, so I did return for a second year, and had a much better time than the first year. But that had everything to do with friends and nothing to do with academics, which still frustrated and sometimes depressed me. Even though I declared my major last year, I didn’t feel like I had any specific direction within that major, and still don’t even now. The difference is, I am now allowing myself to question whether or not this particular process of education is right for me at this point in my life. The answer seems to be coming back no, I’m not ready for this. I feel like I’m putting a lot of energy and money into going nowhere, and not getting anything out of it.

So I’ve dropped the physics class I was going to take this quarter. I’m going to see how things work for me with no classes for a while, and see if really taking a quarter off (as opposed to the "off" but not really off quarters I’ve had up here already) gets me any closer to a decision on where I want to be going with my life right now.

Just as a reassuring side-note, despite how this blog entry may sound, I’m actually quite happy with my life right now. I feel much better for dropping the class, and not depressed at all – just confused. :)

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Happy Birthday, Quena! I'm so glad you're in this world, and in my life. You're the best sister a girl could ever wish for. Happy Quena day!