Don’t read the title of the post and get the wrong idea. Earning your PhD is a long, complicated, difficult process. As a beloved professor told me when I was first applying, “No one ever went to graduate school and said it was the most fun they ever had.” But amidst all of the grumbling and complaining that we collectively do about the hoops we’re jumping through and the struggle to find sources, there’s something that gets me excited and confirms for me that I’m in the right profession.
I love the exchange of ideas that we engage in every day, how we challenge each other’s thoughts and constantly re-negotiate our knowledge. I love hearing from scholars outside of NCSU; when they come to visit and present their arguments, they challenge my current thinking on the topic and force me to reconsider my stance. In essence, I love when people make me uncomfortable with ideas. I love when I come away from a talk or reading questioning my current stance and trying to reconcile the new with the old. I’m inspired to talk about the concepts, synthesize, and share what I’ve learned. And I particularly like being uncomfortable with new ideas so that I don’t take for granted the knowledge that I do have. When asked why I believe something, I never want to answer, “Just because,” or “because of x theory,” or, “so and so said so.” I feel that polemical views are hard to support and even harder to engage others with, so I’m constantly trying to balance – and that’s a never ending process.
It’s an every day reminder that no one can ever know everything, but together, we can share ideas and make sure that we never settle with what we know. We should always strive to learn more. And that’s exactly why I’m in grad school.