As it turned out,(almost) no one abandoned me because of my loss of faith in graduate study. Instead, my relational terror was replaced by an existential terror as I realized that all of those specialized topics we study so deeply for so long in graduate school are — for the most part — of zero interest to anyone else.
Maybe because you aren’t any good at it.
I’m so tired of all this hand-wringing about how nobody cares about our research or reads what we publish. It’s not in the least true. When I was writing my first book, I was taking a lot of Greyhound buses. And on a 38-hour trip you end up striking tons of conversations whether you want it or not. People always asked me what I did, and we had great conversations about it.
All that you need to get your research out to people is to stop thinking that you are such a special cookie whose profound ideas are inaccessible to the hoi polloi. Maybe the problem lies with the delivery and not with the audience.
Quitting graduate school is an entirely valid and wonderful life choice. Just like not quitting graduate school. And most people I know who made it know how to do it without shitting all over alternative choices. And hey, this isn’t even the worst quote I’ve chosen. It gets a lot worse later on in the essay.