Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Disappointment is not the emotion I want to be left with as I pack up my stuff and leave the halls of BSU. I'd like to keep everything on a high note...the "yay, i'm done!" happy note. But today I just feel generally sad. Yesterday I picked up the paper that I spent approximately a zillion hours on to find that I only got a B+ and a entire page worth of commentary pointing out the essay's weaknesses. Why am I not happy with a B+ you ask? Because, like I said, I put a zillion hours into it...I worked my ass off and put enough thought and energy and stress into it to equal several papers in any other class.

I should have picked a topic that came prepackaged with a tidy little thesis, one that I could wrap up in a tidy little conclusion. But, you see, I don't work well like that. I chose my topic because I felt it down deep, because I resonated with it, because I felt like it had something to teach me. I'm frustrated that I failed at my efforts. Fail, you ask? (after all, it wasn't an F!) Let's face it, a B+ means that it wasn't good enough. God, as I write that I am completely aware of how stupid this sounds...but damnit...I think my feelings of disappointment are about more than just the grade, but about the comments too...and the fact that, once again, I'm left feeling that I don't fit it, that I'm not smart enough, and that my brain refuses to work in certain ways. It makes me fear and dread more grad school....and definitely makes me feel like I'll never be "good" enough for a PhD program. I would have liked to write a really blow-your-mind-away essay about Morrison and Hughes and the power of language. I would have liked to write something moving and memorable. As writers, isn't that what we want all of our writing to do?

This essay was important to me for some reason. The cynic in me thinks: 1) I would have been better off writing a 5 paragraph theme the day before it was due and calling it good. Another part of me thinks: 2) that my professor made some really good points and that there is truth in what she said. And yet another part of me thinks: 3) that she is wrong and that the essay is as good (or nearly as good) as any published piece of critical writing. I'll settle with the notion that it is a healthy combination of #2 and #3...and that life goes on.

Disappointment numero dos is that my thesis proposal that I turned in last semester has been lost, my adviser doesn't remember if she sent it out to my committee members, she doesn't remember if she gave it a grade (which she did last week after prompting from me), and I'm pretty sure she doesn't even remember reading it. In how many ways can one feel like a piece of shit??? I put a lot of work into writing my proposal. And for what? I have felt, all along, that no one gives a shit about what I write for my thesis. This feeling is both sad and liberating. But being completely forgotten about just plain sucks.

I realize that teachers are busy and have many, many students to think about. But, come on, how many grad students are there?? The whole deal makes me want to feel sorry for myself. Oh yeah--I AM feeling sorry for myself. The worst part is that I love these professors dearly--and that is what makes this sense of disappointment hurt even more.

I feel mediocre.
I feel forgotten.
But most of all, I feel like my writing doesn't matter.

To think that my words don't matter just sorta makes me want to lay down and cry. These past two years have been hard in so many ways. I guess I wanted to walk away from it feeling like I accomplished something. Unfortunately, that's not how I feel.

I still have to write my thesis this summer and then come back to Bemidji to defend it in the fall. It is a strange feeling. At this point I'm writing it for no one other than myself. I feel very alone in this endeavor. Then again, maybe that's what I need. I feel like I am standing in a dark grey fog. I can see no one in any direction. I can hear nothing. This time, it's just me. It reminds me of when I lived, for many months, alone out in the woods without running water or electricity. It was a quiet time when I traveled deep inside of myself. My experience was based on that solitude...and maybe that's what my writing needs now. Anyway, it has some wounds to heal. Sometimes solitude offers the best salve.


Amber said...


Let me just say: I do fit in in grad school, and it's not all it's cracked up to be. I admit that it makes certain things easier (like writing papers for N.). But sometimes I think it limits my experience of the world. I'm so fucking busy analyzing things all the time that I forget to FEEL them, or I don't know how. And that's what I envy in you: your ability to understand life and the people in it on an emotional, visceral level. THAT makes your writing valuable.

Froyd said...

classes, grades, thesis, and even professors cannot define who you are and what you do.

only you can do that.

bsu is not the be all/end all of existence.

tara dawn said...

I definitely know how frustrating it can be when you put your heart and soul into an assignment and then it is not received as hoped for. Remember though, that ultimately, these papers are for YOU! They are about you, your words, your ideas, your beliefs...and I have no doubt that these papers are great! Try not to let the opinions of others make you doubt yourself or your words. At the end of the day, your satisfaction with your work is what really matters. However, in saying this, I totally understand the disappointment. I am sending big hugs to you...and even my opinion is moot in this case, I think you are a brilliant writer. You definitely have a fan, sweet girl!
Miss you and sending love,

gkgirl said...


that sucks
that you are left with feelings
like that at the end...

just an off the cuff idea
but could a little of it
kind of be
because its the "end" of something?
you know how at christmas,
theres all the anticipation,
and then its done and its like
well...hmmm...how did i feel about that...did it match the picture
i had in my head?

like i said,
just off the cuff
and could be way off the mark...

beleive in yourself.

paris parfait said...

Don't worry about one person's opinion - all that matters is what you think of yourself! You're the one you have to answer to. You have genuine talent as a writer; don't let bureaucracy or busy profs or thoughtless remarks deter you from your goals. Throughout your life there will be people who don't appear as supportive as you might expect; ignore them; listen to that voice inside and have faith in yourself! You have real talent and don't ever forget many people admire and believe in you and your abilities.

erin said...

i was going to leave a comment, but it got long and rambunctious, so i posted on my blog instead... :)

Loralee Choate said...

Option #3.

Sometimes professors can be too damn heavy-handed with the red pencil. Sorry, but it is true.

I think indifference is the suckiest option out there. It can make you feel invisible and like CRAP.

You do have an impact. Hell, I went and bought sidewalk chalk today because of you. May not be a big impact on the universe, but it certainly is to two small, blonde boys!


kerry said...

i'm sorry that you are finding yourself in such a hard place. reading your post made me want to reach out and give you a hug. your words felt like they were mirroring some of my own thoughts and it was comforting in a way to hear another put them out there so well. i hope you do find out how worthy your words are, even if it is in some sense of solitude... may that silence and solitude offer you the healing you may be seeking.

Kristine said...

I'm sorry to hear that this turned out this way.
This post resonates so strongly with me - especially this line "I should have picked a topic that came prepackaged with a tidy little thesis, one that I could wrap up in a tidy little conclusion. But, you see, I don't work well like that. I chose my topic because I felt it down deep, because I resonated with it, because I felt like it had something to teach me."
I think you were right to follow your instincts and do something you were passionate about.
Don't forget that professors are simply people. Don't let the grade define you. I always try to exceed my own personal standards ( which are really high) so that I am pleased with myself no matter what is said.
I know it is difficult. I admire you for continuing forward...

paris parfait said...

I tagged you - come see.

Tammy said...

I am in total agreement with your friends. This is your work, stand by it and hold your head high. Your are a terrific, talented woman. I'm sorry you're feeling bad, so now I'm wanting to kick professor butt.


Amber said...

As it turns out, I spoke too soon when I said that writing papers for N. is easier for me. I got a B+, too. Here's the best part: the section she tore apart the most is the few pages I excerpted from my thesis.