Getting a master’s degree is more painful than childbirth, with a longer gestation period

I took my first graduate class in spring 2005, started a master’s degree in earnest in 2007, and have been enrolled just about every semester since.

Seven years’ gestation.

Sort of like childbirth, I knew at the beginning that if I focused on the scary stuff at the end, I just might not make it. So I started off with stuff I knew I’d have fun with and tried not to think about how I’d ever make time to write a thesis.

No one moment during the nine classes I took seems all that difficult. But collectively, I spent a lot of hours reading and writing. And then came the thesis. And sort of like childbirth, there’s no way to skirt around that scary stuff at the end. The only way to the other side is straight through the pain. And in this case, no drugs can help.

I successfully defended my thesis on Thursday, so I’m officially on the other side, looking back at the pain. I’m not sure when I’ve felt such relief. Unlike after the birth of my two sons, I don’t have euphoria to distract me from the bad parts. Just relief. And a master’s degree. And a 5-year-old son who says I should be called Headmaster from here on out. I’ll take it.

Here’s what the dedication page of my thesis says:

To my husband and two sons, who have tolerated years upon years of multitasking.

To my grandfather, Donald Mathis, who is no stranger to fancy degrees, for telling me that a master’s degree is no big deal and that I should go for it.

To my colleagues at the Columbia Missourian, who inspire me daily.

To my first bosses in journalism, Sara Quinn and Janet Coats, for mentoring me and exposing me to what creativity, optimism and a sense of purpose looked like in a newsroom, and for setting the bar high.

And to my college newspaper adviser at the University of Oklahoma, Jack Willis, who quietly held me to the highest of standards, and who asked me when I was 21 if I was sure I didn’t want to stick around and get a master’s degree.

So, can anyone recommend a hobby?

5 Comments on “Getting a master’s degree is more painful than childbirth, with a longer gestation period”

  1. Jen Reeves says:

    Congrats Joy. I’m so happy for you. Here’s a hobby idea: Sleep.

  2. Joy Mayer says:

    Not have to decide between sleep and working out!
    I also have in mind some purely creative pursuits.

  3. I’m a big fan of gardening and watching replays of baseball games🙂

    Congrats Joy!

    • Nathichit says:

      One huge leap we are all asked to make in order to foollw Mr. Mayer-Schonberger’s argument and actually believe that it might be necessary to have “permission devices” strapped around our necks in order to alert nearby cameras of the desired expiration date of one’s photographic likeness–shelf life of epic bro shots: 100 years–is to assume that other people somehow won’t be able to distinguish between what it means to be an IRL actual human being (warts and all) and the image-heavy, homemade tabloid magazine of each of our lives that shows up online via social media.   He’s basically saying that we need to micromanage our online presence because there’s going to be some HR employee creeping your Facebook profile 10 years from now who’s not going to be able to look at the photo of you doing something unflattering, err, not in accordance with CV-promotion, and not be able to say, “Yeah, I’ve dressed in drag at a party, too.” Or whatever.  Seriously, empathy is a fucking basic human characteristic.  People do dumb things all the time.  Occasionally overlooking that fact is part of the give and take of our daily lives.  I hate to say it, but this book’s about 10 years too late, and this puff piece in the the Guardian UK is the worst kind of print media fear-mongering, completely predictable in its attempt to create a market for something for which there is no need.  Hint: the solution that resurrects our sacred and time-honored “ability to forget” isn’t the delete key.  As M-S envisions it, it’s a fucking product.   So there you have it.  And speaking of bad ideas, is someone really trying to make the word ‘brainwave’ happen?  As in, “Shelaigh had a brainwave and decided to check her old emails and look for the address.”  Really? Brainwave?  Is something wrong with ‘thought’ or ‘idea’?  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  We were all asked to do without such intellectual niceties in order to buy any of this article’s nonsense.   Thanks, Jay Gabler.  I won’t be bothering with this book.      

  4. Matt Harris says:

    One idea from a kid who doesn’t have a clue: Teach us, prod us, engage us. We appreciate it more than you’ll know. Oh, and make sure a centerpiece has some white space.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s