But was graduate school a "bad" experience for me? Hell no it wasn't! Was it hard? Sure. Was it emotionally draining and confusing and complicated? Yep. But it wasn't "bad." How can I say this?
- Graduate school gave me the tools to think and speak in ways that I never would have learned had I not attended.
- Graduate school was a luxury. I was able to read widely and deeply, to think long and hard, to focus on things that made me see the world in a new way.
- Some of my deepest and most lasting and most important friendships originated in grad school.
- Graduate school taught me that I am capable of original and insightful thought and that I am capable of meeting goals that were impossible for me to imagine at 17, when I had to work my ass off to explain to my mother that it was even possible for me to attend a 4-year university rather than "taking a few classes at community college" and living at home.
- Graduate school made my world bigger. It meant leaving my hometown, moving to two different and bigger cities, and making a new life for myself in each of those, without the safety net of family and people I knew for years.
- Graduate school taught me who my friends were and it taught me who I could count on in the life that I had before. People who couldn't hang with me becoming hyper-educated were quickly weeded out. That was a good thing.
- Graduate school meant that I had the option of becoming a college professor - without it, I would not have the life I have now, and I like the life I have now. I like having some control over my day-to-day schedule. I like having autonomy. I like teaching, but I also like that I get to have a life of the mind, too. I like that some of the hardest work I do can be accomplished in pajamas.
- Graduate school, and specifically my years in my PhD program, were not only times of study and stress but also times of Big Fun and Partying and Dating and Dancing and Craziness.