Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reverting to type -

Everything changes, and some things don't.  I never thought I would be back at school, not after The Hell That Was My Doctorate.  And yet I love school.  I love to learn.
But after VoldeDean, I now understand that Acadmia as a career choice will only take me so far.  Frankly, I am also  being really really tired of being poor ALL THE TIME, I decided a career change is in order.
I am in a new Masters program.  I never thought I would be back in graduate school, or school at all.  Well, other than the interesting class here and there on odd topics like jewelry and web design.  And yet, two days a week I am in classes teaching me about Human Computer Interaction, and Ergonomics.  With 51 other people, most of whom are younger than I am.
And with better social skills.
The last time I was in graduate school, I was in a program the other graduate students’ called the Wolf Pack.  There were two other neuropsych programs called this as well; Waterloo, and Columbia.  The three of us were the young up and comers in a snarky, snippy and just plain mean set of scientists who seemed to delight in pissing on each other.  It was we were taught to do to be “good” academics.
I hated who I became.
I am a really happy person who wants others to succeed and likes to smile.  I became kinda bitchy and mean.  This is especially true because to be part of the Wolf Pack you were kept off your mark and developed neurotic self image tendencies.  It wasn’t until I left that prestigious and seriously fucked up program that I realized all graduate studies might not be like that.
Don’t get me wrong.  I think graduate school is hard.  Really really hard.  So hard that not everyone should do it.  It is a marathon that steals parts of your soul, and sometimes you don’t get them back.  But it doesn’t have to be nasty.
So you can understand why I was a little nervous to enter this program.  And what I found was a normal group of people.  Everyone seems to be very nice and very congenial.  We have the girl who is part mean girl, eg, she wants to be friends with the boys and cuts out other women.  She is too young to know better, or to understand that this is about her self-esteem in competition with other women. She can only hurt the rest of us if we buy in, but most of us are older than she is, and know what she is doing. Bless her heart.  I hope she grows out of it, because she could be a lot of fun.
We have several people who already work in the industry and are getting a formal degree to get paid more, or move up in their career.  We have several (like me) who are switching careers, and are fairly new to the world, but not such newbies that we don’t know anything. I know a lot about how people behave.  I just need to learn to apply it to product and machines.
I have also discovered that my knowledge base is not common.  There is a teacher who gets the theory slightly wrong, but not wrong enough for me to say anything.  And even if he did, I am not sure I would say anything.  I don’t want to be that girl.  You know, the one who always has to correct everybody, even when it is no big deal.  You roll your eyes every time she says something, even when she says something relevant.  You just don’t care any more and you want her to just. Stop. Talking.
I most definitely do not want to be her.
I have already been called out a couple of times in the classroom because of the amount of education I have.  The joke is that I have more degrees than a thermometer.
Oh Ha Ha.
Mostly, the people in the program are all good socially, quite unusual for a degree in engineering.  I am lucky enough so far to be working with a couple of really cool girls on a project, and have worked in class with a couple more great folks.  I find myself learning huge amounts from the others, and I tell them so.   
For now, I am in a good group with two women I like, and I plan to keep my end of the bargain, keep a good attitude, and, keep going.  Like the snake with its tail in its mouth, I will shed my skin, emerge anew, and live to fight another day.