Nov. 18th, 2008

quiresti: (Default)
So, tonight I had a minor personal crisis. And then I talked myself through it and came to a minor personal revelation. Sort of; it built on some thoughts about myself that have been developing. Anyways, then I felt like sharing, but it felt somewhat awkward to call someone and say, hey I talked myself through a minor personal crisis and now I want to share. Feel free to try and participate in a conversation or to pretend to listen while you read good meta on the internet.

And then I realized: hey, that's what LJ is for.

(Feel to read, ignore, comment with something relevant or with your own rambling story that no one else cares about.

So my personal crisis started when my professor handed back my paper. My second paper in my first graduate class outside of the teacher education department (although still strongly associated with it). My second paper with 100% in my graduate-level linguistics class (oriented towards teacher education). It made me deeply uncomfortable. I came up with a lot of thoughts about my fellow students, classes oriented towards teacher-candidates...etc. This paper was a typical last-minute offering.

And I had to stop and think; I am a good writer. Many people have told me that I am good at analysis. And even if it was a last minute production, I did get into and thought I made some good points. So, why do I feel uncomfortable when I do very well (pretty well I'm OK with. I am unhappy getting less than an A. But I'm uncomfortable getting more than, say a 95).

Here's the thing though, when I did my undergrad in anthropology, I liked it. I mean, really, really liked it. And even if I was extremely tired of school by senior year, I still loved some of my classes. I didn't continue in anthropology. I don't really plan to. And anytime someone asks why, I tell them that while I love the subject and learning about it, I like actually doing it less. And that's true. But part of the truth is also that, doing my thesis and seeing the people around me, I kind of decided that I wasn't that good at it and that maybe I could be better at doing something else. (Something less ivory tower too).

But, if I can handle grad school,if I can do well in it, does that mean that I basically quit something I enjoyed because I was lazy? Could I have done better if I worked harder (the answer is yes, of course). Because, that's not really ok. It also bodes ill for any thing I do, ever.

As I thought it through, I decided I was right both times. Because I was (am) lazy. And I could have done better, maybe a lot better, in anthropology. But I am also missing something that makes great anthropologists. I am a good writer. I am good at research and at analysis and at observations. All key points to anthropology. But I really really suck at asking questions. And that's where it starts falling apart. See, the responses to my papers are often, good analysis, you really make the reader thinks, this part invokes some really interesting questions. But I never get to that next step. I have a lot of trouble coming up with those questions and its not fun. What I needed from anthropology was someone to tell me, hey find out this about these people. And I can do the research and do observations (and I could get better at interviews, really). I can even say, hey, I want to go observe this and then analyze it. But that's not really how a lot of academia works. My comment from my thesis advisor was, your topic is kindof boring. You come up with all the interesting questions at the end and now its too late to answer them. I can't up with the questions (or hypotheses really) to get people interested in funding grants, etc until after I've done the year or two or three of research.

So I think there are probably some jobs where someone wants someone with an anthropology perspective and they'll say hey, go find out all about this or about these people. And that would be cool, would be perfect, except that a lot of the ones I can come up with pull at some ethical issues for me. Maybe I didn't look hard enough because I was feeling a little discouraged, but I'm ok with that (mostly). I think that's part of the reason why, soon after deciding not to pursue anthropology for a while, I got really interested in medical anthropology, particularly within ethnology of beliefs and practices surrounding medicine in different cultures. Because pretty much the most perfect job in anthropology for me would be working with hospitals serving large immigrant (or other forms of cultural diversity) populations. Someone could tell me, hey, go figure out what this new refugee group thinks about disease and doctors. And I could go do it! And I would be serving an awesome cause, making medicine more culturally competant!

But I'm not sure how much work there really is in that. Typically, it seems like a lot of people doing that start from academia, asking interesting questions, coming up with interesting results, and then going to the doctors and saying hey, guess what I found?

Anyway, the point is that I kindof miss anthropology. And I'm a little afraid that leaving it behind makes me less like the kind of person I want to be. But mostly I think that I'm not actually best suited for it. And I really hope that I'll make a way better teacher than I would an anthropologist (and not just because I like talking to kids and adults intimidate me a bit).

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