I'm going to admit it - I don't have any special reason why I started studying Astronomy. I didn't have a telescope when I was 8, nor was I fascinated by NASA missions or anything. Honestly, the reason why I started was because I didn't get into the music program and thought Astrophysics sounded sufficiently impressive. There. I said it.
Not that I don't love Astronomy, because I do - but at a basic/public knowledge level, not at a graduate level. At this point, I'm studying some tiny aspect of some small sub-sub-field, and no one cares. It has no bearing on society at all, and it's of no help to anyone. It is completely unfulfilling.
I've thought about dropping out of my PhD time and time again. The first time I seriously contemplated it was October of 2007, and it's come up every couple of months since then. It's becoming increasingly common these days though. The one reason I have stayed is that I don't want to let other people down. I don't want my family, my husband, my supervisor, my friends, and especially not my colleagues to look down on me for not finishing.
Embarrassment is seriously the only thing that's kept me going. I realize that's not what I'm supposed to say - I'm supposed to love what I do, and be so happy that my life is dedicated to something to amazing. But, that's not the way I feel and I'm done with pretending.
After having another crying fit this afternoon, DH and I talked about it for the upteenth time. This time it was different though, because it was the first time he ever said that he would fully support me if I decided that I needed to drop out. It made me realize how bad it must be if he can see that maybe the positive of getting a piece of paper isn't worth the misery I've been going through.
I don't know what I'm going to do - at this point dropping out sounds like heaven, but at the same time there is that looming cloud of embarrassment and disappointment. I know that I should just finish - I just can't come up with any reason why.