Kicked out of the Ivory Tower

So I guess I can talk about it now because it’s been a year–but I left my program at UW-Milwaukee. I don’t want to go fully into details because I didn’t leave on good terms with my advisor, but only to say that when I do talk about my experiences with her, many people aren’t surprised that I left school.

So I’m a PHDropout.

This had been a severe life changing event for me, because–well for almost all of my life, I had been locked in the ivory tower of academia and my departure was well, here’s a dramatic interpretation of it:

That’s me in the red cape.

The Tower card is fitting, since it represents upheaval and change of path. This is a major upheaval. For the first time in my life, I don’t know what I’m doing–I had a plan. I was to go to school, become a doctor, and teach. Since leaving the program, I’ve had a few adjunct positions, but it didn’t feel…right. Since the interactions with my former advisor and leaving the program, things weren’t sitting well with me.

I ended up selling or getting rid of a lot of my books, a lot of my poetry collections and theory books, specifically–things that had brought me joy but I felt were tainted by this exchange. I stopped writing. I stopped hanging out with my Storytelling Family.

For the last year, I worked at a big box retail store and it’s…been an experience. I just had my annual review and it was strange because it went well, but it made me realize that I don’t belong there either. I belong neither cloistered in the Ivory Tower nor outside academia.

And this is a good thing. Change is a sign of growth. If you’re uncomfortable, that’s a sign that you’re being challenged. In being uncomfortable, I started to find things that I had forgotten I had enjoyed, I’ve been making desserts again, I started reading for fun again, I started to play video games again. I fell more and more in love with my fiancĂ© again.

I’m not quite sure what the future has for me now. I don’t know if I’ll be heading back to academia, or if I’ll be going back to school for something else. I don’t know what I want to do, but I feel like I’ve come out of a long dream. Maybe this is what it feel like when you stand up after hitting rock bottom.


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