The guilt in pursuing a PhD

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The guilt in pursuing a PhD

Post by Nadia P on Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:45 am

I enjoyed reading this article. I felt like I should share my own similar experience.

I remember when I first started graduate school is around the time my mom spontaneously decided to retire. Then she decided to use her entire retirement savings and by a townhouse, which was beautiful and I was happy she had a place of her own, but now she didn't have a steady income to pay for utilities and luxuries, like a cellphone. Here is where I came in. My mom thought (since I had gotten my bachelors, was pursing a doctorates, and receiving a monthly stipend from my department) I was rolling in the dough. When she told me she couldn't afford the cellular plan she asked if I could take over the payments, so I did. It was so hard. I made enough to pay for my apartment, car payment, insurance, utilities, the cellphone plan, but didn't have enough for groceries for the month. I struggled for 2-3 months while my sister convinced me to tell my mom the truth: I financially couldn't help her anymore, not because I didn't want to, I just didn't have the means to. I told my mom that I would pay one more month, but after that we should cancel the plan. I thought she understood my dilemma, but a week later and some phone calls from my family, I was dubbed an ungrateful daughter. I remember my sister calling me and relaying comment one of my cousins said to her, "How can Nadia be so selfish? Not helping her mother." That was the hispanic culture, once you're old enough you start taking care of your parents because they sacrificed so much for you to succeed.

I felt guilty. My family didn't understand that just because I was getting my doctorate it didn't mean I was receiving a six figure income. None of them had been to college, let alone grad school. All they believed is the higher education you have the more money you receive. It took some time to convince them that wasn't true, but I wonder if they truly believe me or if they still think I'm an ungrateful daughter.

Had anyone else felt this way? Or have their own story of feeling guilty pursuing a PhD?
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Re: The guilt in pursuing a PhD

Post by Veronica V on Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:59 am

I have definitely experienced the guilt. There have been plenty of times that family members have called me asking for money because they assume that I am "rolling in the dough". I try to do what I can, pay for my mom's cell phone is one of them, but I feel terrible that I can't do more. I want to buy my mom a house. I want to buy my siblings nice gifts for birthdays and holidays but I can't afford it. I can only afford to buy a small gift for my mom.

It's tough to be happy in grad school when these things weigh heavily on you.
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