The impending publication of the book based on my doctoral dissertation will mark an end of an important stage – that of my graduate studies. It is very symbolic that a book on the Bildungsroman genre will be a culmination of my development as an academic.
The graduate studies stage lasted for five more years after I graduated. This happened because I didn’t learn everything I needed to become a scholar and had to continue learning long after getting the diploma.
One reason I didn’t learn as much as I should have in grad school was that I was expending a lot of time and energy on my own psychological problems. When you don’t solve them, all you can do is maintain an endless cycle of compensatory behaviors that leave little space for anything else. The most powerful of these problems was the obsessive inner monologue telling me that women should not be spending all this time reading books and doing intellectual things.
Another set of problems was external. There was a grievous lack of mentorship in my graduate programs. For instance, we were taught that reading what other people in the field were doing in their research was an impermissible waste of time. Not only wasn’t reading literary criticism considered work, our professors made us believe it was a useless hobby of lazy people. I was well into my tenure track when I heard about the concept of the scholarly base and realized it was not only work but actually a professional obligation to maintain this base. Time management, long-term career planning – I had no clue how to do any of these things.
It is only today that I feel that I’m fully ready to graduate.