I arrived in Tucson to start the Philosophy PhD at the University of Arizona on Monday, and I now find myself in indecision about whether I should do it or not, and I’m stalling on signing the employment papers with the university. I’ve never been in a situation like this before: having travelled all the way here, I would have expected my heart to be committed to giving it a go. But it isn’t, in fact, I’m afraid and I want to go home. For my own benefit, in this blog post, I’ll try to give the best arguments I have for attending and for not attending.

Why I should attend

It’s hard to guess how one will feel and think about experiences after the fact when one hasn’t yet had the experience. One way to try to do it is to think about what regrets one might have. If I decide to leave now and not go through with even one academic year of this, it’s possible that I’ll later come to regret it if I realise that I did want to study philosophy again after all and I’ve given up my only chance to do it. On the other hand, if I decide to go through with the first academic year of the programme—leaving earlier than that would mean paying back thousands of dollars of the tuition waiver I’m receiving—I might regret having been unhappy for another year after a lot of unhappiness in Korea, but I would have got a better idea of what I want out of life and I would be better able to make decisions to do or not to do challenging things.

Why I shouldn’t attend

My heart is only very barely in this and I don’t seem to have the energy to commit to working hard and getting the most out of the programme. In a low-energy state like this I’ll suffer from all the downsides of living so far away from home without really reaping the rewards of working hard at my studies and learning new things. If I then spend the 10 months of the first year of the programme waiting to leave, my mind will get contorted into terrible knots of self-hatred and negativity. I ought to make a choice in favour of my happiness now, and just let go of graduate-level philosophy because it doesn’t seem to be for me.


The only reason your heart is not in it is due to fear of what might happen. And fear is not a good thing to base life decisions on.