So. This is a hard post to write.
I’m not going to graduate this year.
Not because I couldn’t, or hadn’t done what I needed to do so, but because my PhD program has offered me a fifth year of funding. See, ours is a four-year program from stem to stern; in, out, and on to the world. But as I’ve documented here, I haven’t been able to land a job yet, academic or otherwise. And I was (I am) ready to toss the whole academic job thing by the wayside: I remain unconvinced that getting such a gig would be my occupational panacea, the space in which my skills can be put to best use.
And, oh yeah. That it’s the sort of gig that would make me happy.
But. My program doesn’t make a habit of offering a fifth year of funding—though I’m certainly not the first student to whom they’ve made such a gesture.
I turned it down once. I turned it down a second time. Then my diss committee made a hard court (if well meaning) press as to why I should reconsider.
I won’t get into the various arguments they made. Suffice it to say that, to my surprise, they were convincing: in part because the arguments focused less on my failings, on the ways in which the program could use a fifth year to fix all that was deficient in me, and more on how I could make one more year, one more try, work to my benefit.
Maybe it was the optimist in me wresting control away from the realist for a moment. I don’t know. But after some sustained, concentrated angst about it, what do you know. I said yes.
So the plan is for me to finish the diss this summer, just as I planned to in anticipation of defending in late July. Doing so will let me go on the job market (have I ever been off it?) this fall with letters from my committee informing potential employers that the diss is done, and I have only to defend the thing in January 2016 to be officially done.
The rest of my time here? Devoted to working on publications (which ok, I enjoy)–although I suspect TPTB will want me to focus on getting shit published in more straight-up rhetoric journals than in fan studies. (And I can work on my romance novel. Shhhhh.)
So is this the perfect solution? No. Do I kinda feel like I’ve just agreed to become an angel condom? Yeah.
But, but: there’s no way to know which answer is the right one. And even when I’ve been at my lowest of late, I’ve tried to remember this Quaker proverb: the way opens. Maybe it’s not the way I wanted, or was even looking for, but my program’s chosen to hold the door open. And I’m ok with going through it.