It’s Good to Have a Backup Plan

O Best Beloved is in grad school, where you occasionally have to do unpleasant-sounding trials like “Prelim” and “Defending” and so forth.  I’m not sure what any of them actually entail, but they sound like the sort of thing that’s administered somewhere deep underground by old men in hooded cloaks.

Pictured: grad school (artist's rendition)

So her lab has a tradition:  you go into your Prelim with a backup plan that’s way more fun than grad school.  That way when the monks open your veins and begin draining your blood into the holy chalice you can close your eyes and think about teaching little children in Micronesia, and fishing for crabs during your afternoons off, rather than screaming and violating the Third Holy Instruction.

I think this is a good stress mechanism for everyone, whether you’re facing trials of torture or not:  have a backup plan.  It doesn’t have to be in preparation for a specific make-or-break moment; it can just be your backup plan for the day you get fed up with all this shit.  When this shit gets extra shitty you can take a deep breath and relax, secure in the knowledge that you have a plan.

What’s that?  My plan?  Oh — I thought I would take up yak herding in Alaska.  They don’t have yaks there yet, and I think they’d like the climate.  I’ll be like Johnny Appleseed, except with baby yaks.  Geoffrey Baby Yak!

Baby yaks also happen to be the cutest thing ever.

Do you have a backup plan?  And if not, why not?

    • t. o. Aster
    • July 20th, 2011

    Well you already talked about my back up plan, which is teaching English abroad (somewhere warm and bear free). I had a friend borrow my backup plan for her 6 month review at an advertising firm and then use it when the advertising market went belly up. Or she was going to use it, and then she became a yoga instructor instead. So I still do not have reports on how awesome it is to do nothing but teach and eat crab…

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