The Ugly Reason I’m Finishing My Doctorate

I divorced my doctorate for three years. I quit after completing all required courses, the first chapter of the proposal, and much of the next two chapters.

I am finishing because I am competitive.  My friend that I started this program with finished. 

She posted a picture on Facebook in the gown holding a blow up globe.  Get it? Before the next semester even started, I began revamping my topic and set a timeline.  This was not happening.  

I’m not competitive against the thousands of people working toward the doctorate at any given time.  They were enrolled when I started.  I am the worst kind of competitive.

 Who am I?  I can’t compete with my friend. I went to her baby shower. Her mother is one of my favorite people.              

I’m trying to keep up with a friend, and a girlfriend at that. Aren’t I supposed to be competing with the men at work? Men I hardly know trying to best me for jobs I don’t want? Shouldn’t I be pursuing my full potential in pointy toe patent leather and Chanel, legs crossed at the boardroom table, leaning in?

Instead, I’m competing with someone I love that got married and had TWO children during her time in the doctoral degree program, all while keeping a full time job.  Sure, I had my own life obstacles and family challenges, but she finished. 

I’m “seeking challenges, taking risks, and pursuing goals with gusto”, according to Sheryl Sandberg’s ubiquitous message. 

It just turns out that I’m doing it in that anti-feminist way, whatever that means these days. I heard about Sandberg’s efforts to get rid of the word bossy.  (Who over the age of six says “bossy?”)  I wonder if changing “competitive” to “motivated” might make me feel better about myself. 

Yes, I’m competitive, but I’m also thrilled for my friend and her celebration was pure fun.  She acknowledged me as her friend on the journey in the beginning of her mighty work.  I will do the same and thank her for motivating me. 



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