Grad School Expectations

Inspiring author Anne LamottLast year, Nancy Jackson did a great talk for women in grad school here at UofT.  She talked about writer’s block and how the whole process of grad school is a journey toward realizing you really do have something important to say.  The best part of the talk was a recommendation that we read Anne Lamott – one of my favourite writers. So this week as I hide from the office and write from home, I read a small section of Bird by Bird each morning.

I enjoyed this morning’s read: “But I try to make sure they understand that writing, and even getting good at it, and having books and stories and articles published, will not open the doors that most of them hope for.  It will not make them all well.  It will not give them the feeling that the world has finally validated their parking tickets, that they have in fact finally arrived.”

This quote reminds me of a comment my former boss Thomas Ridington once made – “I’ve realized over the years that the new hire will not solve all your problems.”  So do we set ourselves up for disappointment when we expect grad school or a PhD to change our lives?  Or should we just enjoy the journey and not aim to high?  Personally I suggest striving for the best, but enjoying the unexpected, and perhaps humble, places at which we may arrive.