The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Too Old For This

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I really hated graduate school. It was very cut-throat and cliquish. There were the TA's vs. non-TA's and the native speakers vs. non-native speakers of the language I studied.  I was not a TA and not a native speaker which meant I was persona non grata. No one really talked to me or offered to study or work on projects. Every attempt I would make at trying to fit in was met with being brushed aside or ignored. If I asked for help or guidance, I was given wrong information or ignored. In fact, when I got married and brought in some photos, no one was even interested. Needless to say, I was depressed and hated every agonzing minute. I refused to quit the program, not wanting to give the "clique" the satisfaction of driving me out. I finished my MA and headed straight to law school. Interestingly enough, law school was the complete oppisite. It was an inclusive and welcoming environment. Yes, it was very compeititve, but at the end of the day, you could have a beer with your compeitior and it was all good. I still maintain friendships from law school to this day. 

Fast forward some 25 years since graduate school and I find myself in the same position in my PhD program. In one particular class, I can see the same clique-like behavior taking shape. There is this group of PhD students who are part of the same cohort. They only associate with their own. As a non degree status student, I am viewed as persona non grata. If I attempt to strike a conversation, it is met with the same looks of disgust that those in my Master's program gave me all those years ago. In fact,  they hoarded the topics and presentation dates for a project, leaving the scraps for the newbies and non-degree students. Asking to join their group is met with a polite "hell to the no". 

Really? This shit again?

I decided that I would take the matter into my own hands. I emailed the remaining classmates and asked them if they would like to join me as a group. I explained that I am new and a non degree students, and I would really like to get to know some people in the program. About an hour later, I got two responses, each saying they were glad that I reached out to them. They were feeling the same way that I did. 

I am glad that I took the initiative, but the whole thing still bothers me. My first thought is: what the hell is wrong with people? I mean, we are way past middle school, so why act like it? My second thought is that I really hope that this is not going to be the norm for my doctoral studies because again, I am way too old for this shit. I am not expecting some life-long bonding moment, but some common decency would be nice. 

I am not the same person I was back in graduate school. I am older, more confident and a snarky badass. I know I can handle the juvenile behavior of some and mop the floor with the others. But, just for a moment, I went back to a place I thought I had left a long time ago. 

It's up to me to make sure that it is a very short visit.


chicago foodie girl said...

Kick some ass, girlie!!

Seriously, I have zero tolerance for that nonsense. I dealt with some of that ridiculous cliquey behavior in grad school, too; ultimately, I took matters into my own hands and found a fab group of people who weren't interested in playing stupid high school games. Unfortunately, I think some people (primarily women) just never grow up -- they're perpetually stuck in Mean Girl mode.