Post-Ph.D. Reflections

Since finishing my Ph.D. program, I've found myself taking time to reflect and reassess. I realize that the six years of graduate school were not good for my mental health, so I needed some time to think about how to deal with past traumas and finding best ways to move forward. In many ways, my isolation from social media has been due to me grappling with these issues: issues that are rearing their ugly head again as a new Ph.D.

I'm currently a lecturer in the department from which I got my Ph.D. and I think that may be where some of my problems stem. I've had a complicated relationship with this department. For much of my time there, I felt isolated and not sure about my sense of belonging. I constantly felt like I was in a space that wasn't made for me. The more I learned and the more I matured, the more I realized I indeed was not in a space made for me. This system isn't made for poor Black boys from Mississippi to get ahead and make something of themselves. By virtue of my existence in this space, I am an outlier, an anomaly and a threat all in one. I am an outlier because so few people even get to graduate school, let alone finishing with a Ph.D. I am an anomaly because I'm not supposed to be here. History and statistics tell us that people like me typically do not get this far.  Blacks/African Americans make up only about 6% of psychologists, a lack of representation that can be explained by a number of educational barriers disproportionately experienced by African Americans. I am a threat because my presence is a statement against oppressive systems of white supremacy that seek to limit the progress of African Americans.

I say all of this to say I'm exhausted from this constant pressure. I'm tired of feeling marginalized, disrespected, and undervalued. The longer I stay in this environment, the more I feel like it's beyond saving. Things feel so messed up. There are so many things about academia (aside from racial issues) that are beyond problematic and I don't know if I have the energy anymore to fight this machine. It feels so much like a pyramid scheme. You get sold the myth that you can actually make change through academia, only to find out academia just reproduces those inequalities that you are trying to fight. I'm almost completely certain I don't want to be in academia any longer. I don't want to stop working to fight injustice, but I have lost faith that academia is the way to do it. Academia is not worth sacrificing my mental health.