This summer was supposed to be the summer of PhD prelim preparation. I dutifully printed out the reams of articles (4 pages to a sheet, to save the trees) and shoved them into binders to take with me everywhere I went. I dug out my highlighter and note flag collection and made sure that I had a set in my purse so that I could study wherever and whenever I had the chance. I packed them for our trip to Colorado, fully intending to take advantage of the long travel days. And I tried to. I started to. I read five articles on the plane to Denver. And somewhere over Kansas, I realized that I just didn't care. The reading material was suddenly dry and uninteresting. I realized that I had lost all of my passion for Sociology, and that working toward my PhD was a chore instead of a goal. I dreaded reading for the prelim, and the idea of spending another two years working toward a dissertation felt like torture. Instead of it being something that I wanted, the payoff just seemed kind of... meh.
There are so many more things that I want to do with my time! I don't want to sacrifice time with my family and friends because I'm doing a literature search to ground my research in theory. I don't want to stop running in the mornings and exercising with the husband in the evenings because I need to spend every spare minute outside of work summarizing articles. I want to be able to read for pleasure, spend a few hours running, visit my out of town family, and go on vacations without feeling tied down to the PhD process.
In retrospect, I should have never left the department before I had finished. I look at my classmates and they all make it look so easy - but, then again, they don't have full-time jobs demanding their attention, either. If school was my full-time job, then yes, I'd finish. But it's not, and there are only so many hours in the week, and I don't want to regret the way I'm spending them. I don't want to spend that kind of time on something that doesn't really hold my interest. There are other paths that I'm considering, other things to study that interest me much more that Sociological Theory, but for now, I'm content with where I am. I'm continuing to develop as a person and as a professional, and I don't need those three letters to define me.