Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Since I've Been Gone

I'm not really in a good way right now.  I thought that after a couple months I'd be used to New York, be used to the new school, my life's new pace, the place where I'm living, etc.  This is just not the case. I booked a flight home for this past weekend to see my family and Ben.  Last time I went home I returned feeling sort of refreshed and ready to tackle things.  After my return from this trip I find myself unable to unpack my bag.  I called Ben as soon as I got home and I already missed how his voice sounds when he's next to me, holding my hand.  I hate that here, I'm alone almost all the time.  My most social day is the one where I go into work for a 9-5 deal, and it is only social because I happen to be in an office with a few other people.  Otherwise I'm by myself.  And it's wearing on me.  This weekend at home wasn't enough, and I find myself seriously, seriously reconsidering my decision to move here.  I feel like an idiot.

A few people have asked me why I haven't posted recently, Ben and my mother included.  When Ben asked I told him it was mostly because I don't have a camera (mine broke ages ago and I've been taking photos with my phone recently).  But really it was because I just couldn't bring myself to.  I don't know that that's ever happened before.  I love writing this blog.  I've still been doing my nails, I just haven't wanted to take crappy pictures or write about how sad I am.  Or avoid writing about how sad I am.  So of course, Ben being literally the nicest and most caring man in the world, surprised me last weekend by giving me a new camera.  I am, as they say, back in business.  Mechanically, anyway.  Morale-wise I just don't know if I'm up to it.  But I thought I would share some photos from this weekend.  The pictures are all from the same day, with the exception of the last one.  I'm wearing a peacoat from Old Navy (that I had to buy when I got to Cleveland; it was 77 degrees when I left New York, and it was 50 all weekend in Ohio), a dress from Urban Outfitters circa autumn 2010, Target tights, Target boots circa autumn 2011, H&M sunglasses.


Saturday was a really perfect fall day.  We stopped at a park to look at the leaves.
I picked this "flower," which I'm pretty sure is actually a weed.
We went apple picking.
This is like in Lady and the Tramp, except way less gross and way less convenient.  We're ridiculous.
I climbed a tree to pick an apple, but I was too short in the end.
So Ben picked it.
Then he found this apple picking machine and stood atop it triumphantly.
One of the paths through the orchard.  This is my desktop now.
Carving pumpkins is one of my greatest joys in life.  But it was too early to get one.
 Mostly just posting this so you can sort of see my nails.  I'm wearing OPI Stranger Tides sponged in a gradient with China Glaze Zombie Zest (The Walking Dead returns next Sunday, so I'm doing all I can to psyche myself up for it--something to look forward to, right?)
A Cleveland staple is Melt Bar and Grilled.  I insisted we go there for lunch on Saturday and I was not disappointed.  And again, you can kind of see my nails here.  I had aaaaaall that food and I was still eating Ben's.  And that soup was worth it.
And this is what I get to look at across the table from me.  He's cute, isn't he?
This is what I saw from the plane window yesterday.  That's somewhere on the west side of Cleveland.

And there are no pictures of this event, but one of my favorite moments of my trip was sitting on the couch with my mom and grandmother going through my mom's wedding album.  We're starting to think about wedding plans, and it was nice to see what my mom did and hear my grandma's memories about the day.  When I told my grandma I wanted calla lilies and black or navy bridesmaids gowns she said, "But that's for a classy wedding."  I was like, "GRANDMA.  I am a classy lady and this will be a classy affair."  With an open bar.

Yesterday morning was an absolute nightmare.  My flight left at 11, and Ben lives about 45 minutes away from the airport, so we left the house at around 8:20.  We were both exhausted from staying up late the night before.  We were both emotionally wrecked from the knowledge that I'd be gone in a matter of hours.  Then we got to the airport, I checked a bag, and as I was writing down my ID information I realized I had left my cell phone at his place.  And, as Kate Gosselin would say, I melted down.  I was inconsolable for a few minutes.  I knew if I didn't have that phone that I'd get back to New York and be completely alone.  All of my emotions about leaving bubbled up to the surface, and I sat on Ben's lap by the security line, crying on him, while he tried to comfort me and tell me he'd ship the phone.  But instead, I paid to move my flight back five hours so we could go get the phone.  Then when I had calmed down and we were back at the car, Ben realized his wallet was gone.  We had to run back to the ticketing counters where we had been sitting (read:  where I had been losing my mind) to check for it.  And it was there, so that was good.  And then the afternoon was wonderful, because we had these blissful extra hours together.  And that made saying goodbye even harder.

I've never been with anyone before that I've felt this way about.  Is being away from him worth it?  I don't think so anymore.  I've been working hard for this doctorate my whole life, and now I find myself not wanting it.  And I try to think these things through rationally.  I have A LOT OF TIME to think on my own.  I'm going to make it through this semester, if only halfheartedly, but what then?

But anyway, I'm back in New York for yet another dramatically shortened week (I only have class on Wednesday and Thursday), so I'm sure I'll do nothing but think about this.  And thanks for reading this, if you did.  I know it's a lot to dump on here all at once.

I cannot wait for the zombies.  

EDITED TO ADD:
I've received a few comments and e-mails telling me to consider how I felt about this PhD before I got engaged.  I feel like the implication here is that before I had this ring on my finger I was probably much more driven and that now that I'm engaged, I feel like I can give up on personal goals.  This is simply untrue.  I felt this way about leaving Cleveland before Ben proposed to me.  And I think I would feel similarly about the doctorate even if he wasn't in the picture.  There comes a time, you see, when a girl gets tired of putting literally EVERYTHING ELSE IN HER LIFE on the back burner for school.  I have done it for years.  And now I'm thinking that it might not be worth it.  That's all.  It has little to do with my marital status.

And I do appreciate the support and comments.  Trust me, it warms my heart to read them.  But I thought I would clear up what could possibly be a misconception.

54 comments:

  1. Hang in there! Whatever is meant to be will be, I know it's easier said than done. If most of the time you find yourself wishing you were elsewhere, and dread going back to NY after being with your family, then it's really not worth it (in my opinion).
    Life is for living and being happy and being wtih the ones you love! It's too short to spend the next 3-4 years (how long is your doctoral program?) being absolutely miserable.
    You'll know what is right for you.

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    1. Thank you. I actually do believe in the que sera, sera philosophy, so this was a helpful reminder of that.

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  2. I know it is hard. I have done it twice. After the newness wears off, you kinda look around and think 'now what?'.

    I would say, give it a good solid year before you make any major changes about this. What you feel now, may not be what you are feeling then.

    And a lot of it is tht four letter word we all hate, time.

    I think we have all been bombarded with how glam something like this sounds. The way we are supposed to feel about it, is often quite different from the reality of day to day life. And up until this point of our lives, it was so much more easy to make friends, find our way ect.. but then we cross a threashold and it just becomes harder. We have the same 'tools' we learned, but the challenges become tougher, the easy ins for fordging friendships become harder, the ease of groups become harder to break into. But the friendships you will make will be worth their weight in gold.

    I do promise, that at the end of this first year, you will be better able to decide if this is a path you want to contiune, or change directions. I honestly feel that if you make a choice before the year is over, you will always wonder about the what if's instead of the what is.

    and I wouldn't mind seeing a phone photo if you choose to use them. I think you shoul keep blogging about your experiances, and share the ups and the downs. I think you will be pleasntly surprised with the feedback, as well as looking back and re reading what you blogged about.

    *please ignore all bad spelling.. not my forte'*

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    1. It does sound glam, doesn't it? It hasn't been.

      A year is good advice. Also a long time.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment.

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  3. Although I don't have a significant other back home, I can totally relate. Being in London and essentially completely on my own (I haven't really made any friends - just acquaintances) really, really makes me miss everything/one I'm used to. Just the other day I threw myself into a panic, thinking about dropping out of my program and going home.

    Since you were so kind to help me with my grad school concerns, I want to let you know if you need someone to talk to, feel free to shoot me an email. I know I'm a total stranger, but I thought I'd put the offer out there.

    I'll send some good vibes your way, and I hope everything works out however it's meant to. :)

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    1. Thank you. And I hope you're doing well in London.

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  4. I'm so sorry that you're so sad! Try to stay strong. Sending bunches of good wishes your way.

    I have to say that the photo of your beloved is priceless. His love for you just lights up his face!

    Karli

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  5. I've been reading here for a minute, and I'm so sad you're sad!

    I guess your choices are to suck up the classes for the doctorate in NY (how much more time do you have?) or see about transferring someplace closer to home after the semester. In the interim, are there any random classes you could take somewhere where you might make some friends? There must be grad students hanging around, who are probably also lonely too.

    If you were in Philly, I'd take you out for a drink and you could yell at me for chewing my cuticles therefore perpetually ruining any manicure I give myself.

    Sending you lots of good wishes. Whatever you choose, you'll be strong enough to get through to your final goal.

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    1. There are other grad students. I've made a couple friends, and I try to be social. But I will admit that it's difficult for me to be social. I don't have like a disability or anything, it's just hard for me to be gregarious and put myself out there. But I'm trying.

      Thank you for the comment.

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  6. I didn't read all of this besides the end because I came here to tell you about a fantastic grey polish!
    But I completely understand what you mean about it not being worth it. Even though you spent your entire life working on it. I just have to say to follow your heart and not allow yourself to regret your choice. EVER. That must be a rule!
    He is willing to wait for you and he will be there when you are done. But you will also be able to go back and get your doctorate when you are ready.
    I was in love with someone I could have spent the rest of my life with. I had to move a few states away and he ended up seeing someone else after we waited for about a year. It broke my heart and I am still depressed from that but what is hard to move on from is his death. He died almost 4 years ago and even though I have a child now with someone else I can't help but think of him every day.
    I hope I didn't scare you with that but that was just my experience.
    I hope you figure everything out and make the right choice for you and your future. I know its hard now but time passes so quickly and even though your lonely don't let that make up your decision.
    Well that grey I was talking about is from hare polish. I think they will be stocking them soon but its called King of Carat Flowers. She just put swatches up on her blog.

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    1. This made me so sad for you. But thanks for sharing this story.

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  7. Oh so sorry you're so sad!!! I wanted to tell you a story from my own life: 10 years ago I was with this awesome wonderful guy and simultaneously applied to grad school with about 100 applicants per 1 spot (my mom suggested I apply, I did it just to shut her up). When I got the letter of acceptance I genuinely thought about declining and going to school!!! I thought that by being in school I would not be able to spend any time together with my man... Well.. I decided to stay with my studies and that was the BEST decision I have ever made!! I don't know how hard it was to get into your PhD program but please think about it twice before you quit... One or two years away from your family and your fiancé (whom you still get to see!!) is really nothing compared to dozens of years you will live having your career spending with your husband!! I know it sucks right now... But it will pass!
    I wish you all the luck in making your decision, regardless of what it is!! And please don't feel bad about posting in your blog about being down.. We're all here for you!!! :)

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    1. It...was hard to get into my program. Not only was I accepted, but I was given really, REALLY amazing funding. So yeah, that's something to think about for sure.

      Thank you.

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  8. I wish I could do or say anything to make it better, but I can't. I can't imagine what you are going through and how tough it is, but I understand missing the guy you love so much (which is so obvious!) makes it hard. On the other end, knowing your love is so strong might make it easier to keep your relationship going even if you don't see eachother that much. You know it's good so it is "just" the missing that's hard.

    Well, I'll leave you with a big internet hug and hope it makes you feel a little bit better.

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  9. Just stopping by to give you hugs, kittens to snuggle and cupcakes.

    Maj love to you <3

    Also, he's a total cutie!

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  10. I don't comment often, but your post brought tears to my eyes.

    Only thing I can think of to say is to follow your heart--that way, you can't go wrong.

    Sending you lots of happy thoughts <3

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    1. Thanks Emily. I appreciate it. Send all the happy thoughts you can :)

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  11. *hug* Can't say anything smart, I'm afraid, it feels like they are just petty words. Stay strong & hang on & wear your favourite nail polish colour often.

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  12. My heart hurts for you...I want to tell you to suck it up, to stay, to give it a year...but at the same time, I don't know if I could do that *myself*, kwim? Huge ((HUGS)) and lots of hopes and prayers that you can see the light and get to feeling better about being in NYC.

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  13. I've been where you are. My husband and I had a long distance relationship for over a year, including the first few months of marriage. Yeah, that was hard. I know about those weekend goodbyes...they are painful. But cherish the moments you do have with each other and if getting a PhD is really important to you (try and remember the way you wanted it before you got engaged), then think about how awesome it would be to have a PhD and a loving husband. If you think it will put a strain on the relationship to the point that it's not worth it, then that's a sacrifice that's going to bear some thinking about. For what it's worth, I think to receive his support in this is amazing. I personally know one or two men who aren't quite as supportive of their wives' educational endeavors and that makes it that much more difficult. By the way, if you were at the east side Melt, I was half a block from you!

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    1. I was at the east side Melt. It's probably blasphemy to say as a west-sider, but I prefer the east side one. It's bigger and more open. The west side one is so tiny. I always feel like I'm sitting in the lap of the party next to me while I'm trying to stuff my face. Hey, that means you live by Sweetie Fry too, right? Jealous.

      And thanks for the comment and encouragement.

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  14. Well, although I am so sorry that you are feeling down, and missing home and your fiance, it might help to think about how many options you have available to you. I know a number of people who have been working on their doctorate for over a decade, due to work and interceding family obligations. And also this: your fiance wasn't your fiance when you left for NYC, and you decided independently of engagement that you were staying together and making it work long-distance. I KNOW it's hard, but like others have said, it's temporary. Every time I moved when I was younger, it took at least six months for me to start feeling at home. At least for me, the more I moped around at home missing my boyfriend or my hometown, the less I wanted to explore and meet new people. So although NYC may not work in the long run, please give it 6-8 months before making any final decisions. You had mentioned that you and Ben might relocate to NYC after getting married anyway, so why not stay now and get the lay of the land in the meantime?

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    1. It was this comment that prompted me to edit my post a little. He wasn't my fiance when I moved, no. But I maintain that that has little to do with my misery.

      But thank you for the comment and the encouragement. It helps.

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  15. Ben sounds like such a lovely guy. You are a very lucky woman.

    I'm sorry things have been so rough for you. As ever, sending good thoughts your way. Be well.

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    1. Thanks Heather. You can always make me smile.

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  16. So, I have been quietly reading your blog for several years and never clicked out of google reader until this post because it hit so close to home. For about as long as I've been reading your blog, I was admitted to medical school in New York, quit my job, and moved 3000 miles away from my friends, family, house, cat, and husband. My husband was able to find a job on the East coast, but we still don't live together. I've been back here for almost 2 1/2 years, and couldn't be happier with my decision. It certainly hasn't been easy, and the loneliness can be crippling, but I have a long term plan and try to focus on where I will be in the end. I wish you all the best and would be happy to meet up in NYC, if you would like. Promise I'm not a creeper. Just a girl who has been through so much of this myself and can totally relate.

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    1. Wow, that sounds intense. I wish you the best, and thank you for your comment.

      And yes, let's meet up!

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  17. It is kind of obvious that you feel lonely, you miss your family and your fiancee and you start to question everything you do. But I think you are a strong person and you will get through this. Think of what you have already achieved and think of NYC as of lovely city full of possibilities. You gotta keep going, have to be strong, just don't think of PhD as of something you HAVE to do, but as something you WANT to do. If Ben is really that great as you write than he will stick next to you no matter what you do and which path you take!
    Be strong, I believe in you.
    Lots of love from Poland

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    1. Thank you. He is as great as I write. Probably greater.

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  18. I've been enjoying reading your blog for quite awhile - love your manicures! - but have never commented before. Like some other commenters, I just wanted to say that your struggles have really struck a chord. I just finished a PhD literally two and a half weeks ago and although I don't regret it (I've gotten to live in a beautiful place and met my boyfriend of five years - also named Ben! - here), I also don't think I would do it over again if I had the choice. About two years into the PhD I got really depressed because I just felt that I had given everything I could to doing well "in school" for so many years and the tank was finally empty. With lots of support from my boyfriend and others I finished, but have decided not to pursue academia and be a professor like I always thought, and it's really scary because now I don't know what I want to do - I just know that I no longer get an upset stomach every morning from thinking about the academic work ahead for the day. So I guess what I'm saying is, follow your gut instinct on this. There is absolutely no shame in changing dreams, and I wish I had realized that at the beginning. All the very best of luck!!!

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    1. That is one of my greatest fears, actually. I mean, all of these degrees are a means to an end, right? But what is the end? Of course it's that dream job that I've wanted since I was a kid. But what if I put everything into this doctorate and then I come out the other side with nothing to show for it monetarily or job-wise? It's a HUGE risk! And I have a couple friends who haven't been able to find ANYTHING with their MAs. So I'm scared.

      But thank you for sharing. I love hearing from people in the same boat. And congratulations, doctor!

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  19. I am glad you posted this, it is good to put it out there. By writing about it and talking it through, you will decide.

    I saw a great quote from Rihanna lately, she said "I am going to do what I want." I thought, hey, that is what I do, me too.

    My philosophy (after years of trying to people please) is to do what I want to do, period, and not worry about what anyone else thinks. This took me many years to achieve. It is your life, you must wake up every day. The only people you need to please are you and Ben now.

    We don't know how long we have to live, so I make sure now I am doing what I want to do every day. Dream your wildest dream of what you want your life to look like, and go for it asap! If you don't try for the ultimate dream life, you will not likely get it.

    Anon is right, follow your gut. It will work out. Decide what you want your life to look like, and do it. You will be successful, how could you not? You got into a PhD program, so you could do just about ANYTHING.

    For me, my husband and I took a huge risk and followed our dreams to California, him quitting a great job, and facing a very uncertain future, just to pursue our dream of owning a home here. There are no guarantees, but after almost one year of agonizing worry and fear, we have landed on our feet, and the hubs found a GREAT new job.

    I enjoyed this post, you seem to have a lovely romance, and you both look so cute in a tree!
    Best of luck!



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    1. Thank you. The problem is that I'm not sure WHAT will make me happy. I feel like choosing either path will always yield a million what-ifs. That is my struggle.

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  20. Hi!
    I am a fellow nYer residing in manhattan I am not a spiky crazy or anything lol but if ever you need a person to drink Starbucks with or to go out for brunch I can be available! I know this seems weird but your post touched me, I have no family but I have a long term bf and understand feeling alone at times. Hopefully I can help, best wishes :)

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    1. It's not weird, and I will take you up on that for sure. Thank you.

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  21. I can really connect with what you're saying- I'm currently slogging through grad school (finishing my masters degree), and I'm about done with it. Somewhere after the first year in I lost momentum pretty totally. I just want to get it over with! And I had always planned on doing a PhD after this, but now I'm nauseated by the thought. :P I'm so done with academics- sick of my department, professors, students, my supervisor, and I'm so sick to death of marking papers. I also met the love of my life along the way, and while I've rarely prioritized relationships over my academic pursuits, this is different. I'd rather focus on being happy and fully engaged with the one I love than making myself miserable doing something I no longer enjoy. There was a time when I would have seen this as a failure, but I've had a big shift in perspective these last two years. I found a person who is so amazing and supportive, and makes me feel incredible- I've never loved anyone like this before! So, yeah, I'm all for prioritizing my relationship above a great many other things!

    Ok, I'm kind of babbling now, but in summation: true love. It's a precious thing. Good luck, Stephanie!! I wish you and Ben all the best!

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    1. I know one person from my MA program who went in all I'M GOING TO GO ONTO THE DOCTORATE, and by the first semester of the second year she broke. The first day of the seminar we took together she cried during class. So yeah, I think that happens with a lot of people. Those who aren't in academia don't know what it's like, how draining and utterly soul-sucking it can be. I know that there are few people who understand my world, which is so difficult. So I get it.

      And don't hesitate to babble. I love reading these things.

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  22. It breaks my heart a little to continue reading your blog and hearing that New York is not working out for you ): I don't think I can really offer any advice or anything, but I hope you know that everything will all turn out in the end and that I am here for you (in spirit, at least).

    Putting life on hold for school was a struggle for me as well, and learning to let go of it to pursue something I wanted more was, and still is, very hard, but I don't think I've ever felt that bubbling, heart-warming, feeling as hard as I did when I found the least bit of success in my new direction. For once, I FELT rather than rationalized, and while I may not be as wealthy or as "successful" as I could have been,I finally feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be, and I can only hope in my heart that you find that place soon too. It's wonderful, it really is.

    Sorry if I rambled on and on, I have a tendency to do that. Best of luck to you! Also, I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that a blogging break for you would be well deserved!

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    1. I'll continue to struggle down this path, I'm sure. I'm the type of person that pushes herself to the breaking point and beyond. I learned that while earning my MA. But in that case it was an I'm-working-so-hard-academically-that-I'm-not-sleeping-ever breaking point. This situation is a whole different animal.

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  23. I just wanted to comment because I know what it's like, being far away from loved ones for grad school and wondering if that's really what I want to do. In my case, I did end up leaving my program and doing something very different, but you have to do what's right for you. I don't really have any advice to offer; I just wanted you to know I'm sending good thoughts your way.

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    1. I appreciate the good thoughts. And it's nice knowing that someone can leave a program and still find something that they love doing in the end.

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  24. Hang in there fellow Clevelander! Being in a new city, apart from one's beau and family is so hard, I feel for you! My first year of grad school was so lonely and I spent so much money on airfare...gosh! The only thing that got me through was the absurd amount of school-social activities I got involved in. Anything to be around non-strangers! Whatever you figure-out, we'll all still love your nails (oh, and you too :) )

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    1. Thanks. I'm doing my best to make friends. But it's hard.

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  25. I am one of your older followers and the only piece of advice I have is this, anything you want to do for yourself professionally or personally gets much harder once you get married and have kids. I was in a long distance relationship (Atlanta and Chicago) for over a year and we made it work. It sucked and it was hard but trust me if you are in a program that you really want to get through then stick it out.

    If you aren't sure if this program is what you want to do then you have a lot of evaluating to do.

    Remember moving anywhere along is hard. It gets easier but be gentle with yourself. You are brave and strong and you can get through this!

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    1. Yeah. You're right. I know you're right.

      Thank you.

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  26. I once read in a fortune cookie "You can't go down the right path without first discovering the path to go down."
    Excellent fortune, you have to read into it what you want to read into it. I can't counsel you but know I root for you! No person's path is the same as any other.

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  27. I really wish I lived in NYC because I would totally email you to grab coffee! As an art museum employee who wears horse-print scarves and owns absurd amounts of nail polish I think we'd get along quite well. Having moved to new cities a few times (including abroad) I know how lonely it can be. Do you have any free time to volunteer? I did that and it helped give me not only a social connection, but also a place where I could begin to feel at home - a place to belong. One of the perks is that you'll meet other people who share similar interests, depending on where you volunteer. Most museums have volunteer programs, or you could go a different route if you're sick of art 24/7. It could also help you network and explore other career options. Also - I completely understand about academia. For the longest time I wanted to go on and get my PhD after undergrad, but I realized that 1.) I was burnt out, 2.) I didn't know what I wanted my focus to be and 3.) I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend my life around academics. Some are wonderful, but some are a pain in the tush to deal with. I'm really glad I waited - I have a job I love and have gained a lot of perspective and experience.

    If I ever go back, I think I'll be in a much better position to follow those dreams. I think it's quite healthy and completely normal for you to assess and think about what you really want for now and for your future. Write those things down and hide them in a drawer for a month or two and them pull them out and see how you feel. Transition sucks, but there comes a point when you need to be happy.

    P.S.Sorry about commenting anonymously (I don't have any of the other log-in options - I'm such a Luddite.)

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  28. The difference between a weed and a flower is pretty much who's looking. So, if you say it's a flower, it's a flower.

    Anyone foolish enough to think that you would simply cast away something you've poured your heart and soul into for years just because you've found someone as much as you love Art has never had a true passion for anything, and maybe not for anyone. How sad for them.

    Now the old lady comes out...I too would recommend trying to stick it out for at least a year. I know that it's very hard right now, but Art isn't just a passing fancy for you, and it would be horrible if sometime in the future you found yourself resenting having given it up even though it was your choice (humans, rationality is not always a strong point for us). Ben is a wonderful guy that fell madly in love with you knowing about your commitment to your longtime goals. Let his faith and support lend you strength to get through this. Somehow, with your strong love for both Ben and your Art, I think your future is golden.

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  29. ...someone YOU LOVE as much as you love Art...

    Proofread Sandi. D'oh.

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