Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Update 2 on the Grad School Dilemma

So I haven't made a post in almost a week now. I was away for the weekend spending Easter at my uncle's house. Both of their children are far away--one is in Florida, the other in China--so I was their substitute child for the holiday. My aunt--uh, I mean the Easter Bunny--gave me an Easter basket on Easter morning, which was really sweet. We watched Mamma Mia! (fun but exceedingly silly, even cheesy at times) on demand and saw I Love You, Man (highly entertaining and enjoyable) in the theater, and I spent a lot of time sitting by the fire (it was surprisingly cold outside for this time of year) patting their dog. My thoughts, however, have been occupied for the entire past week by my grad school dilemma. I just can't get away from it, and I really, really need to make a decision--like, now.

At some point over the weekend, I came to the realization that my ideal situation would be working with Professor A on Project B. Professor A, the one who wants me and would give me a lot of attention, and Project B, the one that involves field work scuba diving around coral reefs. If that were an option, I'd jump right on it. The thing is, when I first learned about Project A, I thought it sounded pretty boring. Sure, I've learned more about it since then, but the fact is that Project B is much closer to what I had originally envisioned working on for my degree. But then Professor A did such a good job of selling his project, and he was so nice and tried so hard to get me to work with him. Yes, I put more "Pros" on my list in favor of Professor A, but it's my empathy that wants to work with him because he needs a student and has been trying so hard to get me, my vanity that wants to work with someone who singled me out, and my pride that is lured by a project that could make me a superstar (though there are no guarantees there). Everything that I've said regarding how interesting I find Project A has simply been my attempts at justifying my desire to work with Professor A for emotional reasons.

This was an epiphany that clearly pointed toward Project B. But my moment of clarity did not last long. I started to wonder if maybe the only reason I was siding with Project B was so I could get paid to go scuba diving. I should not let myself be bribed by such shallow pleasures when it comes to choosing a career. The project would still involve a lot of computer modeling work like Project A. Project A is a really good, important project in high demand, and Professor A is a rising star who wants so much to work with me. So I was once again left without a conclusion.

These thoughts have been churning through my head since the weekend. At one point, I had a moment of crisis thinking that neither project was what I wanted to do, but luckily this panic quickly subsided. But the fact is that this dilemma has left me feeling mentally drained. It's a good decision to have to make--either way, I get to go live in Hawaii!--but it is the most painfully torturous good decision I've ever had in front of me. It's even been haunting my dreams--the past two nights, I've had dreams about making this decision.

Lately I've been leaning back toward Project B, because it is closer to what I wanted to do and it involves more field work which I think would be good for me. I still feel bad about not working with Professor A, but I know that I really shouldn't feel bad about making the decision that's best for me. That's where I'm sitting now. But I'm not sitting comfortably.

Sorry I've been so mopey lately. I'll get back to some more normal posts soon.

"How can you know what you want 'til you get what you want and you see if you like it?"

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