“Your only limit is your soul.”
So, here is the inaugural post for my PhD blog. As of this writing I am nearly two months into my PhD in Creative Writing programme at Anglia Ruskin University. A few weeks ago I submitted my proposal and now I feel a bit lost. I’ve been living in a foreign country for a few weeks now and while there are many familiarities with home, the physical absence of family and friends has started to weigh on my academic and creative progress. My advisor Dr. Tiffani Angus has set a few deadlines and goals for me, one of which is to official launch my PhD blog.
As an extremely introverted, and self-described “strange” teenager, I dreamed of leaving Layton, Utah for some academically exotic place like New York City, Los Angeles or, most of all, England. There was something about England in books, TV, and movies that seemed so magical. So if I were to give reason number one in applying for and aspiring to study in the UK, it would be to achieve this adolescent dream. When I left high school in 2005, I enrolled at Weber State University to study psychology before changing to history. I dropped out after only two years of study and returned to college at another school in 2011.
Though I finished my bachelor’s through Southern New Hampshire (SNHU) University and my MFA with Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, I have actually never “gone away” to school. All of my classes at SNHU were online, and aside from four writers residencies (conferences) with Fairleigh Dickinson, I lived and worked in my home state of Utah during my studies. The secondary reason for chasing this PhD craziness was that I knew I had to go big…or I’d end up going somewhere else in the US. Which is fine. I was also looking at a food studies PhD program at NYU (except after my first trip to NYC I learned I didn’t like the city that much) and the least exciting option was a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Oklahoma…yeah, um, no.
The third reason I wanted to go for a PhD has to do with my family. I learned at my Grandpa Thomason’s funeral in 2006 that he wanted to be a history teacher but never became one. This was one of the reasons I changed my Weber State major from psychology to history. My cousins and I loved his stories about family history and his life, he was a vivid but grounded storyteller, the kind any writer aspires to be. However there was one problem: I could never be a teacher for kids. I am well aware that college students aren’t much better, but it still seems like my calling. I love writing because I like sharing stories with people, and while at first I wanted to share my love of history with other people, now I want to help people find their own writing voice.
There is also a final and purely selfish reason for pursuing this PhD. Even as far back as my psychology aspirations I wanted to be the first person in my family to be called Dr. Thomason.
They tell me that I need to remember the reasons why I’m going for a PhD as time goes by. That I need to remember the passion behind my decision when it’s a late night and I’ve got a headache and a deadline, or when I lack the motivation to read or write another word. I have to remember that this is the accumulation of my love of learning. It’s also a huge part of something I’ve learned about in my twenties and what I expect of myself as I near my thirtieth birthday—that I can succeed and even more than that I will succeed.
Image belongs to Disney/Pixar.
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