Posted by: Kate | January 24, 2007

A Letter To My Former Classmates

Okay, so here’s what I’m thinking. Does it sound too desperate, fake, brittle? I felt all of those things the other night, but feel none of them now. I’ve had time to remind myself that trying to judge myself by others’ standards is just a waste of time, and that I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.

And, to clarify, in editing-after-the-fact mode, I don’t feel I owe an update or explanation to anyone. But once upon a time, this group of 20-odd (some of them very odd) people were very significant in my life, and I’d like to let them know where I’m at now, with the hope that I may have been significant for one or two of them.

And, furthermore, I’m tired of overthinking.

I have the dubious honor of piping up as the token non-success story, at least as far as school is concerned. You may remember that, after finishing all of the coursework and qualifying exams, I decided to delay internship by a year because of my family’s upcoming move and some other changes on the horizon. At the time, I felt such a weight lifted off me, which I attributed to the knowledge that the summer of ’05 would have one less big, life-altering change in it.

I did apply for an internship the following year, and didn’t get one. That was difficult, to put it gently. I don’t have a lot of experience in failure, and I have to say, I don’t recommend it. It’s not as fun as it looks from the outside.

I spent a lot of time depressed and feeling sorry for myself, and then I spent more time just thinking and processing it all, and then I spent even more time coping and getting over myself. I’ve realized that my initial relief at withdrawing from the ’05 Match wasn’t just about a temporary reprieve from chaos, but that an internship and dissertation, both what they entail and what they represent, were not right for me. Doctoral-level clinical psychology, as a whole, was not right for me.

So, I’m mostly done. I’m still registering each semester, to delay repayment of student loans, but am no longer pursuing an internship or (sssshhhhh… don’t tell the Registrar!) working on my dissertation. I work in the Emergency Services department of a community mental health center, which is a good pace for me and the money… could be worse. My main priorities, at the moment, are to support Willem and my kids through their efforts, and to nurture interests and goals of mine that I had spent a long time ignoring. I’m working on a book, maybe two, and planning to travel quite a bit this year. I’m also hoping to work on a third child in a year or so.

Not “success” on certain terms, perhaps, but I’m happier now than I had been for a long time. I may, eventually, return to school in some form, but recent events in our families have reminded me that long-term plans aren’t always the way to go.

Please do stay in touch – my email is, and I have a blog at

Be well,



  1. Success is measured differently by everyone….sounds to me like your life is pretty successful as it is. Your going to Paris, dammit. That’s all that matters.

  2. Love it. Paragraphs and everything! ‘Nuff said.

  3. Ditto what everyone else said. I just think that you don’t need to explain to anyone why you’ve gone the route you have, kwim? You rock no matter what.

  4. Kate –

    I don’t like that you call yours a “non-success story”. Let those who will judge you as they will. Are these people your friends? Do they deserve the long version?


  5. I think it’s well written, Kate. But what occurs to me is that the classmates who know you will understand your choices and will support you if they are your friends. The ones who don’t know you, well, who cares what they think?

    Easy for me to say, right? Though I suppose I’m in more of a similar boat to you than I may give myself credit for. I was pretty career oriented at work for the last decade and established myself as one of the lead software developers. Since Anna died, I look at work as, well, work (and health insurance). I’ve always been pretty family-oriented (comparing myself to some of my guy friends), but now I’m really only interested in my family. I still do my best job at work, but I don’t get emotionally wrapped up in it like I once did.

    Personally, I’d say don’t send the letter.

  6. You’re all right, I don’t need to explain anything – I don’t owe my classmates anything. But I do care about many of them, and would like them to know where I’m at (because I would hope that some of them care right back). And there’s a certain piece of me that would like to demonstrate that the road not taken is out there, and an okay place to be.

  7. I cheer for you that you’re on a road less taken because it’s one you need to take. I think you should rewrite your letter with a more “I’m happy differently than ever I planned, and I’m proud, dammit!” tone – by sharing it, you might show others who also feel similar that it’s not only ok to take a different route, but that it can be *more* rewarding.

    No matter what ya do, be proud of yourself and your choices. It’s the right pathway for right now, yes?

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