The first few weeks of August were some of my busiest of the last year. There was one particular week when I worked until 6am almost every night and even pulled my first all-nighter of the year. The hard work paid off, though. My advisor said that I’m the most productive person out of all of his students, even though I’m the youngest academically (his other students are Ph.D. students and postdocs – I’m the only master’s student).
My advisor gave me the biggest compliment I think I’ve ever received. He called me “The Hope,” as in “The Hope for the Future of Statistics.” It was a nickname that his advisor gave to him, and now he’s passing it to me. I’m apparently a rare breed in that I enjoy applied statistics but don’t shy away from theoretical statistics either. With my math background and workaholic work ethic, my advisor believes I can be a superstar in academia. He gushes about me all the time. I still don’t have such confidence in myself, but I’m definitely flattered by how highly he thinks of me.
Near the end of August, my advisor went on a business trip to Australia for a couple weeks, so I finally got to take a summer break while he was away. I spent a few days visiting my math grad school besties (and their twins!) in Canada and spent the rest of my time at home in LA. Given how focused and productive I was all summer, I assumed that I would still continue to do some work during my break. I surprised myself by how easy it was to stop working.
I had a fantastic break. I hadn’t been home in five months (a long time for me), so I had to see and catch up with a lot of people. My social calendar was completely booked for two weeks straight. I saw family, high school friends, college friends, math grad school friends, old work friends, and even a Target friend. I went to two aquariums (one in Canada, one near LA), Disneyland, Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood sign (the last two of which I had never been to before).
The problem with my break was that it was too fantastic. My friends kept asking if I will pursue a Ph.D. after I finish my master’s, and I honestly don’t know. I thought I knew what I wanted, but now I’m not so sure. When I’m at school and focused only on statistics, pursuing a Ph.D. seems like the natural progression, especially since my advisor constantly expresses his confidence in me. But when I was at home, it felt so wonderful not to be focused on statistics and to have a life outside of school. I forgot how much I missed my friends and family and how happy I am when I’m around them.
I’ve been back at school for a little over a week now. After such an amazing break, it’s been really difficult getting back to my old level of focus and productivity. I keep going back and forth about the decision I’ll have to make in a few months. My advisor says he doesn’t want to put pressure on me to pursue a Ph.D., but “The Hope” is a nickname I’d like to live up to.