Choices

I left my PhD degree about 6 years ago – why? Well, for a whole bunch of reasons really, some personal, some academic, some financial. I was actually doing quite well before leaving, I gained momentum during my degree, finished with a grade average high enough to be invited to complete honours – which I did and did well, finishing with a 1A degree. I was given loads of teaching work, a full scholarship and happily enrolled in a PhD program.

I was a bit of a favourite in my department, a little older that the rest of the students and had been treated as a colleague rather than a student for some time. I knew my department needed to hire a female & that as long as I kept going, the position would probably be mine. (Academic) Life was good.
I may divulge the gory details of my fall from grace at a later date but, suffice to say for the moment – I crashed, and burned, and crashed. OUCH!
About 6 months ago, I re-enrolled (at a different university!!) in a PhD. I have not been entirely devoid of study since my abduction, but I had not studied at PhD level for over 5 years. I actually found it stimulating and enjoyable and quickly became addicted to the rush of learning again. Recently however I hit a wall (just 6 months in) – my current job as a High School teacher is too demanding and draining and because I have been relegated to teaching out of discipline, too frustrating. This is interfering with my studies as I am now facing the decision of whether or not to take leave-without-pay from my job and go for the PhD or, to choose security and a steady paycheck, leaving my dreams at the door.
Sure I could continue to study while working but my job has recently reneged on a promise regarding teaching load and discipline and I am so disillusioned by this experience that I am looking at the academy through rose coloured glasses & wondering if I should make a last-ditch effort at an academic career. As I am in Australia, the academic job market is a little different to that of north America so although jobs are not falling of the library shelves, there isn’t the same do-or-die mentality of the TT system.
I have a few weeks to make my decision. My sons tell me I am crazy to be considering this – given that they had front row seats to my spectacular meltdown previously, I am inclined to consider their opinions. But, they are grown up now & on their own paths and I don’t want to regret not ‘giving it a shot’. Blame Steve Jobs Stanford address, blame early-ish onset menopause, blame my own capacity for self-destruction, but chances are I am going to take a chance.
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