You're doing what for the next seven years?

So many of my conversations with people these days end with me leaving my conversation partner in a stunned silence as I awkwardly excuse myself to find a drink or talk with someone else or maybe even go smell that tree over there.

What causes all of my conversations to go downhill so quickly? No, it's not the usual taboo topics of sex ed in schools, frog dissection, or the proportions of spinach to oreos I've eaten in the past week. 

It's actually about career choices and the amount of schooling such choices require. #beingaprofessor

Here's a sample conversation with every adult ever who's asked about my future plans in the past few weeks:

Real Adult: "Oh hi Claire, nice to see you again. What are you up to these days?"
Fake Adult (a.k.a. me): "Yeah, it's good to see you too! Well I graduated from BYU and am moving to Indiana in August to start a PhD program for German Studies."
Real Adult: "Wow, that's great. How long is that program?"
Fake Adult: "Well I'm funded for seven years, so about seven years."
*Awkward silence*
Real Adult (trying to keep voice calm): " years?!"
Fake Adult: "Yup."
Real Adult: "That's a really long time."
Fake Adult: "Well yes, I guess so. It takes a while to become a professor."
Real Adult: "Don't you want to become a doctor or something with that time?"
Fake Adult: "I am going to become a doctor."
Real Adult: "No, I mean a medical doctor. Someone who can...."
Fake Adult (lets them drag on and doesn't help for 43 seconds): "You know, I'm going to go find some water. Oh, and there's my long-lost cousin Gertrude! It was nice talking with you!"

And I can feel the thickness of judgment in the air as I leave.

This puts my average conversation time at about 2 minutes and 53 seconds  (including the 43 seconds of awkward silence I always allow). So you could say I'm on a roll. 
My longest conversations have been with my parents' dog Buddy, who thinks it's totally awesome that I'm going to school for another seven years to become a professor. He thinks I'm pretty smart, but I don't know if that says a lot.

Here's the thing: masters degrees usually take two years. I'll spend a year in Germany as part of the program. I have approximately 453 pieces of German literature to read. I have to write scores of papers, including a thesis and a dissertation, which could technically and probably should be a book. I'll be teaching beginning German classes at IU while doing this as well and let's not forget research and coursework and exams!

Moral of the story: I've given this a lot of thought. This is what I want to be doing with my life and I'm not in a rush to get through it all. 
Because if life was a race the people who came in first would be dead.

So I'm going to keep propagating uncomfortable conversations. 
#reluctantgraduate #studentforlife

 Also I hope you enjoyed these excellent puns, which may also be part of my seven-year long German Studies project.


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