I recently suffered a bout of insomnia in which I was actually up for awhile in the middle of the night, after having been asleep and dreaming of a summer workshop I took a long, long time ago, when I was still a graduate student, in fact. (Who knows why these things come back to haunt my dreams?) So I did a little bit of searching for people. I only remember last names for a few of my fellow workshoppers, though many of the faces (in their youthful guises) remain with me. The faculty are still where they were then, or retired from those jobs. The grad students are harder to trace. One was a friend for a time, and then we lost touch, and as with Ambrose Booker, for a long time I could not find my erstwhile friend on the internet.
But now this person has a Linked-In account, and even an (inactive) Twitter account, and is a married lawyer in another country, looking very happy in posted pictures. There was a time when I feared the outcome might have been alcoholism and perhaps even death, so this is excellent news. Apparently the cure for the depressive episode was ditching grad school for law school. I’m glad to know this much happier end to the story.
Now that I think about it, that wasn’t the first or last time that people unhappy with grad school latched onto me when I was still a student. And I say “latched on” because they were not friends before the quarter-life-crisis (roughly speaking) happened, nor after it resolved. Since I enjoyed grad school in a fairly uncomplicated way (okay, of course I wondered if I would be good enough, would get a job, all that, but I didn’t question my purpose there), I wonder if that was important to them: were they measuring their sense of purpose against mine, or hoping some of my commitment would rub off on them, something like that?
I don’t think I ever urged anyone one way or the other. I have long been a proponent of encouraging people to do whatever they’re going to do anyway, and if they really aren’t sure, I remain as neutral as possible while encouraging them to figure out what they really want.
But all the people I’m thinking of are now doing other things.