Sometimes, the days, weeks, months, and even years after dropping out of graduate school can feel like the aftermath of a terrible storm. You are happy to be out of it. So relieved that it is over. But your life is in shambles. Maybe it's not even a life.
Find a job. Do I go back to school? How do I pay the rent? My loans are more than I can ever pay off. Go back home or stay here? Well, I am too old to go back home to mom and dad.....maybe I'll have to, though.
These are the automatic thoughts and problems that trouble us drop outs. At some point, longer for some than others, we pull ourselves out of bed and force ourselves to consider what's next. We have to ask ourselves some basic questions again. Who am I? What makes me happy? What fulfills me? The answers are ones that we have asked ourselves, subconsciously, up until we went to graduate school. At that point, thoughts stopped, doubts were pushed aside, and we began molding into our surroundings in terms of behavior, belief, and thought.
I began to feel like my old self again when I got up and got going. For me, this didn't take long. I began planning for leaving while I was still in school, as many of you do, and I didn't allow myself more than a few days in bed. I made a new plan, and this time, I followed my heart and not my head. I got a job. Not a fancy one, not a high paying one, and one way below my qualifications. But one that I thought I would like, and this is all that matters!
One of our main problems is feeling like a normal person again. It is hard to feel normal when we spent so long feeling "special." Feeling smarter, feeling accomplished. Like we had a goal. And suddenly, there's nothing to grasp at. It's more than getting our lives together - it is altering our thinking. Of ourselves, of others, of the world.
We are all somebody. Dropping out of grad school can be like going from being the president of a company to being jobless. Especially if you were one of only a few people chosen, as I was, or some crazy statistic like that. You have to realize again that your life still means something. We still mean something. And we can still be someone.
I work in a hospital in a position that literally anyone could do. There is no experience needed, no school needed. Sure, I don't belong there, but it will always be the place that picked me up off my feet. I love what I do, and when a patient looks in my eyes and tells me they love me, or that I am the only one who has listened, I realize that each of these experiences makes me important, makes it all worth it. And we can all get here, to the place where we are not only content with our lives and place in the world, but happy with it.
I can still be "somebody." And so can you.