when in doubt

There are moments when you feel pulled in one direction and then everything changes. I find myself at a kind of crossroads feeling confused about which fork in the road to take. I keep waiting for some kind of message from the universe, something that will make me feel confident about my decisions. I realize doing nothing is also a choice, just a passive one.

When I was making decisions about where to go to college as a high school senior I had my mind made up, or so I thought. My parents and I visited the college, toured the dorm rooms and I sat in on classes with faculty. I was set to attend this university 5 hours from where my parents lived, at the time. Then a recruiter from a different university visited our high school and new possibilities presented themselves and I just emphatically and confidentally followed them and never looked back. My parents were incredibly supportive of my change of plans. Of course, it meant I'd be closer to them and could live with my grandparent but it was certainly a departure from my original plan. Then I floundered with my major for a couple of years back and forth between English and Communication before I landed firmly in English.

Once I hit grad school, it was full steam ahead. It was all about the next steps. There were doubts, sure, about what to research, about where to focus my efforts, but ultimately the process propels itself and you along with it. I never once doubted that I wanted to be an academic or a professor. I've loved school for as long as I've been inside classrooms. English courses were the one place I knew with such familiarity that I was able to excel inside of them and feel comfortable and secure being a smart girl. My Master's program nurtured me in ways for which I still long. The world was ripe with possibilities. My life was just beginning, at least that's how it felt.
But the Ph.D. program was a different beast with different politics and academic camps and professors who seemed more interested in their own research agenda to teach me anything beyond how I never wanted to be as a person or professor. Still, I rallied thanks to the support of my friends and mentors. I pushed myself and accomplished feats I never thought possible. To say that "being done" felt anti-climactic after finishing the dissertation would be an understatement.

I've heard others talk about the kind of depression that sets in after graduate school, after accomplishing something significant. I've written some of my thoughts about that here and here as I reflected on 2009. And I know that I wasn't the only person who felt alone and isolated that first year (or the second) in my grown-up, tenure track job. I'm here now, almost at the end of the 2nd year and Spring semester has been much better than Fall, in my opinion.

Still, I have doubts. I have doubts about what and how to teach. I have doubts about new directions and possibilities that seem to be emerging while there's an incredible undercurrent of change happening all around me. As I get older, I fear I have become more insecure not less. Is it that the stakes are higher now? Do I care more now ? Where has the confidence I once held so strongly gone?

I feel lost, untethered and unsure of what to do next. So, I am trying to stay open to messages from the universe. Meanwhile, the sun is out and the flowers are blooming and I can sleep with the windows open. I'm looking forward to summer and seeing old friends.