the only one eating all of the doughnut holes (a story about choosing a career)

Louie CK does a bit about cookies at a party- he keeps sneaking back to take another, pretending to “rediscover” them every time. “Oh, look! Cookies! I should probably have one…” Bear said it reminds him of himself. Brenda said it reminds her of herself. It reminds me of myself, too, so I don’t know who all of the other people at that party are. The ones who aren’t taking the cookies. But I wanted to share a story about a time when this happened to me.

It starts during the time when I still didn’t know what I was going to be when I grew up.

When I went to grad school, my plan was to grab the Master’s degree on my way to the PhD, and head straight through to the end, where I’d be a professor in a foggily half-imagined future full of diplomas and a sense of quiet security. But then, a few months into grad school, I realized that no, I’d gotten the whole thing wrong, I wasn’t going to become a professor, ever. I wasn’t cut out for it. I didn’t have that drive that the other students had—that urge to burrow into a text, that finely honed focus. I wanted to talk in broad swaths, and I couldn’t ever make up my mind. I wanted to study big, wide-open topics, and I didn’t care if I never read in the original text. And worst of all, I was bad at theory.

So, with only half a year of my Master’s left, I had to scramble to figure out the rest of my life. Or at least a viable beginning for it.

My thesis advisor said, “Maybe you should try to write,” but before I listened to her, I decided to go to cantorial school.

I had been a lay cantor at my synagogue in NJ since I was a teenager, so I knew I liked it, and actually, I’d once been so sure I’d become a fulltime cantor that I picked my college for its music school and proximity to my synagogue, so I could work all the way through. I started college as a vocalist in the music education program, because I’d heard that a music ed degree was desirable in cantorial school. And then I was miserable. And I sat in a practice room after music theory class crying and writing a poem about the grand piano with its comforting bulk and its sharp, punishing teeth, or something. At juries, the voice faculty told me that my voice was not “bel canto” enough. I googled it. It meant “beautiful singing.” It was beautiful singing enough for the congregants, damn it! I thought bitterly. Then I went on a bitter walk in the rain.

“The cantorial influence is too strong,” said my voice instructor, an enormous, barrel-chested man with a red beard who sang with the New York City Opera and told tales of his own grandeur. “You have to give up singing at your temple if you want to be a true classical singer.”

I didn’t want to be a true classical singer. I wanted to sing haunting, ancient Jewish melodies. That was the whole point.

(singing Jewish music makes me feel mysterious and sexy, like this. source)

So an academic year after I arrived, I stood up and walked out of a piano test.

“I’m done,” I said to the panel of judges. “I quit.”


“That’s too bad,” I heard one say to the other, “I heard she was supposed to be good.”

I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to be good.

I walked out of the music building with my middle finger in the air over my shoulder. It was almost spring. The air felt bright, and the trees on either side of the nearby highway were rousing themselves, being reborn.

I had two days to complete the transfer forms, and it was a desperate rush. I chose a major by running my finger down the list. Religion: No math requirements! It relates to being a cantor! Perfect.

And then my life changed, because in my new classes, people talked about things. My professors had long, impressive personal histories. They had written books! I looked up to them eagerly, effortlessly. I did not have to memorize for the sake of memorization, I had to know. So, desperate, I fell for the whole thing and decided I would become a professor of religion.

Which is why I was so disillusioned in grad school, when it turned out that I’d been wrong. That I’d never taken the time to really figure myself out. That I’d jumped on the first bandwagon with some smart people and considerably less band.

And I thought that maybe I’d been right originally, and I should apply to cantorial school. So I started that process. I sang prayers for important cantors, who evaluated my voice. I was nervous.

“What a range!” they boomed. “And such a lovely, husky sound!”

No one would have said that in music school. My voice worked on the prayers. It seemed like it was made for them. Singing the familiar Hebrew words, I felt natural instead of awkward.

(my voice. source)

One day I found myself at a long conference table with some cantorial and rabbinical faculty and prospective students, engaged in a sort of critical, informal group interview, and that’s when someone brought in the doughnut holes.  It was a mixed box. I like them in this order: glazed, jelly-filled, cinnamon, chocolate, powdered. But I will definitely eat all of them. And they were all there, on the table, in that room where my future was being decided.

I took one. Glazed. So good, but so tiny! I ate it in two bites, and that was because I was trying to make it last.

(You have to understand, I grew up without sugar. I am a child of the oppressive whole foods movement. A child of deprivation.)

Someone was asking a thoughtful question about job opportunities after graduation, placement at various synagogues. I wondered how much time needed to elapse before I could take another doughnut hole. Two minutes? That seemed like a long time.

A venerable rabbi was talking about how important knowledge of Hebrew is. He stroked his beard.

Why wasn’t anyone else reaching for a doughnut hole? I glanced around. No one was even looking at them.

The very sensitive issue of interfaith marriage came up. Like a flash of lightning, I snatched another doughnut hole. Jelly-filled. Mmmm…It only made me want more. Shit.

I asked a question about pulpit training—how much time would each student be expected to spend leading an actual congregation while still in the program? There. I was participating.

Several of the faculty members chipped in on the answer, which I have completely forgotten.

It wasn’t that I didn’t take cantorial school seriously. I did. I really did. I thought I would probably spend the next five years of my life doing this. But at the moment, I just wanted another doughnut hole.

Not even one other person had taken one when I had my third. I thought I saw an eyebrow lift. I kept my eyes down.

On my fourth, I made a joke about being the one pig in the kosher room. Ha ha! Everyone laughed politely, except for the rabbi with the long beard.

By the time the session concluded, I had eaten about a third of the doughnut holes, and not a single other person had contributed. I would’ve eaten more, too. It was sheer force of will that prevented me.

Walking out of the school, I wondered if I would be known among the faculty as “the gluttonous one.” Or something else, in Hebrew, so it could be an inside joke until we all became totally fluent.

It’s funny. I didn’t end up going to cantorial school. I became a writer instead. And now, when I think back on the experience of trying frantically to figure out my future, I remember those moments in that conference room more clearly than I remember the classes I sat in on and even the people I met at the programs I looked carefully into. The doughnuts stand out in my mind. Why didn’t anyone else take any? I wonder. Didn’t they like doughnuts? Who doesn’t like doughnuts? And it’s confusing all over again.  And I’m glad that I ate some—a lot of them—anyway. Doughnuts are delicious. I wouldn’t want myself to miss out on the delicious moments of life.

I think that’s why I decided to take the risk and embarrass myself in front my family and all of the family friends who would continue to ask me “so where are you working these days?” for, well, ever. Because writing felt delicious to me. I didn’t want to resist it anymore. But at least I learned that I have some willpower. Otherwise, I’d have eaten ALL of the doughnut holes, and there would’ve been none left for that rabbi, who I’m pretty sure polished them off after everyone else left.


*   *   *

How did you pick your career path? Has anyone else gone to grad school and then, shamefaced, changed their mind? Have you ever been the only one eating the cookies?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in green.

Check out my piece on Salon about being an internet writer and deciding to have a baby. I talk about how much I love you guys in it.


Kate on December 4th 2012 in fear, food, life, work, writing

33 Responses to “the only one eating all of the doughnut holes (a story about choosing a career)”

  1. Melissa responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I sometimes have great willpower. I quit smoking 8 years ago even though I cried for two solid weeks after. I went off sugar (which meant wine too!) for the entire month of October.

    But, doughnuts. Oh, doughnuts. Glazed, especially. I’m so glad that someone else puts them at number one. My husband puts chocolate at number one. As if.

    Doughnuts are no longer allowed in our home. The last time they came for a visit I ate two dozen in one sitting. I could have ate more but they just weren’t there. My husband had bought them to take to a meeting the next morning. It’s a problem but it has nothing to do with the career path I chose, that has more to do with buying clothes than doughnuts.

  2. D responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Mmmm, donut holes….I have definitely been the only one eating the cookies before. No regrets.

    I guess it is hard for me to say that I have actually picked a career, or even a path. I grew up just KNOWING that I wanted to be a geologist, and I powered through getting a geology-related degree. I even transferred schools to get it done. But now, I have a good job- I have for almost 5 years!, and I’m not so sure that I want to be a geologist anymore. It just isn’t as fulfilling as I imagined it to be. So I’m trying to break into ecology. Or conservation, or habitat restoration. I got accepted into a really good grad school to study environmental science just last year, but I didn’t end up going. It just didn’t feel right. I just have to keep feeling it out, I suppose. Careers are tricky things.

  3. Sheryl responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m still in the process of picking out my career path, and it’s probably one of the hardest things ever. Like you, I intended to be a professor. As in I’d planned on getting a Ph.D and going down the academic path since I was six years old.

    By the time I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree and working on the grad school applications I just felt burnt out and boxed in. Worried that I was giving up on EVERYTHING else in life to spend the rest of forever in school, and that I’d never know what it meant to live in the real world, and my work and volunteer experiences in school made it clear that I wanted to see what the real world had to offer.

    It’s still hard and awkward and uncomfortable. I’m still deciding what I’m interested in and what work I like doing, and I’m realizing that my tendency to go off on metaphysical rants like the philosophy student I was does not always mesh well with most people’s interests. I’ve learned more about myself, my strengths, and my weaknesses outside of the academic world than within it though so I feel like I’m still on a good path. Just not sure where it’s leading me.

  4. teegan responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    re: donuts – when we’d been married a few months, mark came home and asked where i’d put the (relatively new) nutella, i told him it was gone. that’s when he learned that nutella, and really most chocolate things, would not last long on days i didn’t work. he’s since learned to call dibs. guilt wins in public, though – i indulge WAY less if anyone is watching. so i’ve learned just not to bring things home unless i’m prepared to polish them off. and now, shopping with a little person who probably won’t but could cry/poop/both at any moment means i’m better at sticking to my shopping list and not lingering in the candy aisle

    at school, i majored in english and philosophy because they were broad and i got to read a lot. now? i write. but i want to run an artist/writer/yoga retreat center. or maybe be a midwife. or teach middle school math. or be an editor… having a baby was something i KNEW i wanted to do, and it gives me time to figure out what else i want to do, not to mention meaning that i won’t be in the middle of a job i love at 36 and become a mom and have to stop. hopefully, by then, all 2-3 of my kids will be in school or preschool and i’ll have time to give my career more focus than i can now.

  5. Emmi responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    I grew up loving animals, and never being allowed to have any. Except fish, which I could’t manage to keep alive for long. So I dreamed of becoming a vet, and was thrilled when my senior year of high school came and my senior project was going to be an internship at a local animal hospital. They dealt with all small animals, and I dreamed of working with large animals, on farms and in stables, but even working with the little animals was thrilling. I will never forget the elation I felt, walking in there the first day. This is my path! Yes!

    And twenty minutes later, my throat closed up and I had to go to the emergency room.

    Yup, massive allergy to animal dander. All kinds. From horses down to mice. I’d noticed some slight sneeziness when I’d snorgled friends’ cats during my early years, but at some point before age 17 a heredity animal allergy turned full-blown within me and proceeded to completely, utterly crush my dreams.

    The poor people at the animal hospital felt terrible. They knew how excited I’d been. I spent my time (less than half of what I was supposed to spend on my project, falsifying the rest with the hospital’s help) observing surgeries, struggling to breathe. One time a two-year-old gorgeous greyhound got loose from x-ray and I had to catch her, and my arms broke out in hives usually only seen in textbooks. And then I found out she was full of cancer, and had to be put down. I cried for days. I was never really a crier, and I think if I’d not had the allergy I would’ve dealt fine with the greyhound, but everything just overwhelmed me at that point. Now what?

    I floated for a year at college, trying to decide between a psychology degree and forensic science. Or something else, maybe. And then I met the man that would become my husband, and came to realize something vital about myself. I can focus on one thing completely at a time, and it became far more rewarding to focus on my partner than any sort of career. So I took office jobs, working my way into an odd niche between medicine and law, jobs that I could leave in the afternoon and come home and have my real life, the one I so loved. Where I could sew and craft and watch films and lay outside with my husband watching the clouds. If I had become a vet, first of all I never would have met my husband, but I would have become so focused, so narrowly entrenched in my career, it would have become my world. And I think I would have been happy – content, certainly – but I am so ecstatically blissful now that any alternative seems unthinkable.

    Well this turned into a bit of a sappy ramble, but it’s the answer to your question! :)

  6. Erika responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    1) My husband started grad school and quit. I think it was painful for him. After 15 years he’s only told me bits and pieces: that a) he was going through a hard time and 2) he felt lost. Maybe by the time we’re 80 I’ll know the whole story.

    2) I made many career mistakes — I thought I wanted to do one thing, realized it sucked more than I thought it was, tried something else, etc. — but all those mistakes helped me clarify what I liked and didn’t like, plus they gave me experiences with lots of different kinds of businesses. So I can say, now at 41, that I’m happy w/my job (I’m self-employed but like and and feel good about what I do and make enough money).

    Love the Louis CK and donut story. I bet all those rabbis are still thinking about the donuts they didn’t eat!

  7. Karen responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Oh yes being the solitary eater at a party. I don’t really care. Doughnuts are just too delicious to resist.
    I did switch courses after one year when I went to college. And now I’m going to do my masters in performance which is somehow related to my bachelors in education (music and English) and yet a completely different field. I guess in my case I knew what I wanted to do but just did not think I could do it. Luckily I’ve come a long way since then :)

  8. rb responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    I love donuts, I eat at least 6 a week. Which explains my weight, but whatever. I have a Masters in Religion, work in software and am getting a Masters in Education. I’m not sure if this new path will stick. Some people seem happy to have fulfilling endeavours outside of work which justify a humdrum work life. I’ve never been able to resign myself to that. I want to, how I want to. I’d love to stay in my well-paying job and not delve into the notoriously ill paying field of teaching. I’m not, though. My mother says some of us are just destined to seek and that’s what I’ll do my whole life. I think that sounds a bit depressing, but it’s held true so far.

  9. Amy responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    I actually am not the biggest fan of doughnuts. I know, it’s unatural.
    I HAVE been the only one eating the cookies though. In every sense of that phrase I can possibly think of. Actual cookies, anything that is offered to everyone, I will take. A friend and I walked into a store last week and the owner was giving out hot cider. “Would anyone like some hot cider?” “Yes, please!” That’s just me.

    As far as choosing a career, I kind of just always knew I wanted to do work helping people. I’m a social worker now. I got a BA in psychology and luckily am in a field where experience is valued as much as education because I really hate school. Pretty much everything about it. I’m pretty jealous of your homeschooling background, although at the time I would have refused to learn from my own mother so I would have been miserable either way. Ha. Kids. I got a lot of flak from teachers telling me I would need more education in order to make “any money” and have always had to fight to get my point across. I’m not here to learn how to make money. I’m here to learn how to help people. They never really got it. But I am here now. Doing what I set out to do. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to anymore but that feeling usually passes. Usually in a staff meeting. When there are cookies.

  10. Also Kate responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    This is so timely! I just quit my job and have been floundering around trying to figure out what to do with my life, because while I’ve always known I want to be a writer, that feels like an 8-year-old’s vocation, not a very serious 25-year-old’s, not with bills to pay and relatives to appease.

    So maybe I will not be as brave as you were, but maybe I will (I am uncertain mostly because the holidays are coming up, and having to explain that I’m freelancing-as-a-writer-and-editor-but-I-only-have-one-client-at-the-moment already sounds exhausting).

    I have a degree in linguistics, which I chose too late to switch to English and write a creative nonfiction thesis. But I did enjoy all of the playing-with-words-and-sounds, so I suppose the degree wasn’t a waste. And it’s a bachelor’s degree, anyway, so no one has ever gotten particular about the words on it.

    And I love doughnuts, but can’t usually eat them because I’m gluten-intolerant. HOWEVER, if I’m generally having a good digestive week, and my girlfriend and I are on a roadtrip and stop at Dunkin Donuts, I will buy myself a single chocolate munchkin. Because they’re tasty!

  11. Rachel responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    “Has anyone else gone to grad school and then, shamefaced, changed their mind?”

    I just completed grad school, and I’ve changed my mind. I’m a doctor, I guess. But I don’t want to be a professor. I’m trying not to be shamefaced–why should my PhD have been for the purpose of becoming a professor? That’s not why I went into it. I did it because I loved the work and I loved school and I loved being pushed to learn a topic more deeply than I ever would have on my own. Over time, I just started to assume that I’d be a professor. And then, part way through my PhD, I started to question that assumption. I really looked at the lifestyle of the professors I know and compared it to the lifestyle I wanted and the one didn’t equal the other. I assessed my own obsession and drive, and found that it just wasn’t enough to be an academic. So now I’m going to try to go back to school and get a professional degree so that I can have a job that I think I’ll like. I’m nervous that I’m “behind in my career”. Am I behind in my life? People act like it’s absurd that I’m going back for MORE school. They act like my PhD was somehow a waste because I could have just gotten this professional degree out of my undergrad and then I’d probably have a house by now. And kids. Why did I even bother with my PhD?

    Except. I’m not sure people DO act like that. I just THINK that they act like that because of the fearful voices inside my head. The ones that tell me that I did everything wrong and I should have gotten things figured out in the first place. But if people don’t act like that, where do those voices come from?

    I don’t think that my PhD was useless. I contributed. I learned. I have a strong publication record for someone in my field. My own little drops that will add to the sea of science. I’ve won fellowships and awards–not as many as others, but some. I’ve taught many students. Students have told me that I was their favourite instructor. They told me that I was very tough, but fair and that I really motivated them to learn.

    So, why do people (my head?) act like being a graduate student is some sort of success purgatory? Like life doesn’t happen until afterwards, when you get a job that pays you enough money to have all sorts of stuff. Like graduate school is nothing but training and it’s a betrayal to put that training to waste by not following through and becoming a bigger part of the system? Haven’t I been living all along?

    Yeah. Insecurity. Fear. It doesn’t matter though. I’m still applying to that professional degree.

  12. Kate responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Good for you! I love listening to your reasoning. It makes sense.

  13. Lacey responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Oh man. I started out as a music education major myself. I’d always loved singing, but going into it as a degree just didn’t sit well with me. It was so competitive and I ended up switching to photography instead later on. (Which, ironically, I’m not doing now at all, but I certainly have a degree in it. *sigh*) I would LOVE to go to grad school, though, and I’m currently in the process of getting some more pre-reqs done before I go for physicians assisting. (IF I end up still wanting to do it. It’s all very…uncertain.)

    I always feel like I’m that person with a box of doughnut holes too! (For me it was always cookies. Mmmmm, delicious cookies. Or rum balls for Christmas.)

  14. Person responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    I also started on a path toward music and ended up doing writing. I started college as both an English major and a music performance major. I enjoyed both, but felt burnt out all the time and didn’t have space for time to do internships, many extracurriculars, and career development. In short, I worked hard but didn’t think about the future.

    My music teacher encouraged me to go to graduate school, and I received a scholarship to go. My parents, on the other hand, wanted me to work, so I started working various odd jobs while I studied to get a master of music degree. I went from working at UPS to at a brokerage firm to substitute teaching to working in insurance collections, and along the way, started freelance writing. Unlike you, I began as a print writer, and eventually after the economy crashed in 2008, shifted toward internet writing.

    I graduated with my master of music, but eventually ended up getting a full-time job at an internet marketing company. I still freelance these days, and that’s where I use most of my music knowledge — writing about music for two blogs.

  15. Janet T responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    I really enjoyed your Salon article. Once again you put yourself “out there”- and I truly appreciate it. I guess the people who say that you are too self absorbed, should maybe find a different blog to read- and leave this one to the rest of us who love you for what you write, and how you write.

    I’m 50, my husband and I own our business, and I still think I’m trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy this, its more of a nagging feeling that there is another career out there for me, someday.

    and now I want donuts. (Great story- but why didn’t anyone else eat any??? So weird)

  16. Bek responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    I have had this open in a tab for some time now, meaning to read it. But haven’t until now.
    Which is kind of ironic. I have just finished tutoring for the year, and am serious about having a break from it next year. I have submitted my application to start my Phd (don’t know yet). And have found a M-F 9-5pm job I would love to apply for. I belly dance for the joy of it, even though it can be hard work at times. I read this piece, then the comments, and was like all I want to do now is dance. Which makes me question my current decisions and unmade choices.
    I really use to love the occasional cinnamon donut. Donut holes are not big in Oz.
    Now however I am not eating much sugar and would probably only manage half a donut, or reach for the carrott sticks at a party if there where any.
    Thanks for the thought provoking thoughts… *hugs*

  17. Rapunzel responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    I’m really glad you became a writer instead, because I love your writing. You’re so funny! I’m the same way about food brought into a room. Suddenly there’s this static between me and it and it’s distracting until it’s all gone.
    I got my bachelors and a few years after graduating I’ve decided I don’t like my subject as much as I thought I did. Or rather, I like the theory and learning of Ecology more than I do trudging through wilderness to get the information they want to do ecology. Blah. I’m not as outdoorsy as I used to be!
    I’ve thought long and hard about what I *would* like to do with my life but haven’t come up with anything. So I haven’t gone back to school and I’m sort of at a standstill working a really crappy minimum wage job until I figure life out.

  18. Jess responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 12:54 am #

    I quit grad school! For all the reasons you did! I ran and hid in it because the real world was scary and I had no applicable job skills, but the program I ran to was wrong because I wasn’t that exact person you described as being good at grad school. I didn’t want it like they did. I also wanted a life, to experience things besides books and talking about theory. Many people in the program wanted to write, like I did, but they only wanted the audience to be OTHER theory-talkers, the smartypants-es in a private, scholarly club. I wanted to write for everyone. Especially for the not-so-scholarly. Don’t they need help more?
    So I’m doing that.

  19. Jen responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 6:33 am #

    Maybe if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re always trying to figure out what we want to do when we grow up.

    I started a PhD in a biomedical science 6.5 years ago and was absolutely convinced that I was meant to be a professor and stay in academia forever. I defended my dissertation and graduated almost exactly a year ago and was absolutely convinced that I wanted nothing to do with the tenure track. Now I’m nearly a year into postdoctoral research and so unhappy with it that I’ve been applying to completely non-academic, non-lab jobs and am taking on freelance science copyediting jobs to get experience in science publishing and communication. Unlike many people, I LOVED writing my dissertation and any other science writing projects that were assigned, and I really enjoy editing. I really didn’t understand until recently that people would pay me to do those things, and I still can hardly believe it.

    It’s been a very confusing year. I love science, and don’t regret the PhD since I wanted to study in a specific subfield and was allowed to spend more than 5 years doing exactly that, while making some good friends. Plus, nearly all science publishing work requires a PhD. But now I’ve satisfied the wish to immerse myself fully in one topic; like you, now I find that my interests are more broad. Turns out that I still love science, but I prefer reading and writing about it rather than doing it myself. For that reason, I regret taking a postdoc research position. Probably I’d regret it if I hadn’t tried it. At least this way I won’t ever wonder about it.

    I miss donuts. Pre-celiac disease, I was a big donut-hole eater. I totally would have eaten a third of the pile. I should really learn to make them myself. Especially if I can copy either Krispy Kreme glaze or Tim Horton’s maple frosting. *drool*

  20. O. responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Another post that has nothing to do with body image, which is why I signed up to receive notice of your new posts. Frustrating & confusing! May I suggest that you change your description that now says something like “beauty, body image, women, dessert.” It’s misleading because a lot of what you write is only marginally related to those themes. Thank you.

  21. Kate responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Interesting– this is actually the first time I’ve ever heard this complaint. I always get the sense that people want to read about more than body image from me. And I’m usually concerned with getting too redundant if I write constantly about body image. The reason why I haven’t changed the description on the blog is that I can’t think of anything catchy (I’m terrible at that sort of thing), and also, I just forget to do that.

    I write almost exclusively about body image over at the Frisky, where I have a column called Mirror, Mirror. You might want to check that out, if you’re interested.

    But I have to say I’m a little hurt that you felt the need to comment like this under this post– even if it’s not what you expected, I still wrote it from the heart!

  22. Samantha Angela responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 11:32 am #

    In my case the shame of eating the doughnut holes wouldn’t hit me until I devoured them all and then realized what I had done.

  23. Alpana Trivedi responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Kate, one time at my last command, we had pulled into Thailand and I went on a tour. I was supposed to learn about the city and its culture, but about half the bus ride, my attention kept wandering to all the different-colored buses that looked like most of my tie-dye skirts. You telling the doughnut story reminded me of that.

  24. Janet T responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    beauty. body image. womanhood. dessert

    This is what Kate writes about with every post. Womanhood covers a broad range of issues- like careers, family relationships, starting families and even moving into a new apartment. In other words: Life and Living. And she does it well.

  25. Kate responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    @Janet T
    Thanks so much!!

    And I should have said: this piece is totally about dessert! :p

  26. Alison responded on 05 Dec 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    I did my mind changing at the undergrad level; three universities, three majors, and a decade later I am now applying to grad school. I am a firm believer that if you know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 18-23 you are a freak of nature. Yet that is the expectation. Figure your shit out, and get on with your life. I am 29, and I am confident that all the experimentation and exploration I allowed myself to do, without guilt, is why I am confidant in my choices now.

    As a note, I can take or leave doughnuts, really sweet stuff doesn’t do it for me. However, I can murder a bag a Doritos. It is disturbing, I go all sixteen year old stoner, and the flavor does not matter.

  27. Maya responded on 06 Dec 2012 at 7:08 am #

    I’m not particularly interested by doughnuts, for some reason. Pretty much anything else sweet, though, I’ll keep on eating at, as long as it is in front of me.

    But yes, I’ve been the person wondering “how soon can I grab another without looking rude/piggish?”.

    I went through school pretty much straight, no quitting, no nothing. But I went into the rabbinate mostly because I could use it for so many different things, rather than because there was one particular rabbinic career that I was passionate about. It made parts of school rather lonely/tough, but I think it worked out…

  28. Marisa responded on 06 Dec 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I did not go to grad school. I did, however, go to college, and occasionally I feel a little shamefaced about that.
    When I was 18 I’d never been to school (except to take the SATs), but I was going to college because I didn’t really know what to do next but thought that given the choice, I wanted to be an editor, and editors probably needed at least a liberal arts degree.
    I ended up studying comparative languages and linguistics, which had little to do with being an editor but fascinated me (my homeschoolerly interest in linguistics stems, naturally, from my years as a teenager studying the appendices to the Lord of the Rings and learning elvish script and runes and stuff :) ).
    Spring of my senior year the college hosted a dinner for all the students who had won awards or scholarships. I remember chatting with an older alumnus, who, after hearing that I didn’t have plans for graduate school, gently assured me that after a gap year or two I would figure out what I wanted to do and finish my studies (being such a good student, surely I wouldn’t waste my potential!). I smiled politely. Inside I was laughing in his face: “You think you know me better than I do? Four years of institutional education is plenty, thanks. I’m going back to my life now.”
    And I did. I try hard not to pity those of my friends who are still in school — I know some of them love it and are on their way to brilliant careers in knowing everything — but I will never go back.
    My jobs, unfortunately for justifying all that money we spent on college, have little to do with my degree. Instead, I’m continuing the extracurricular work I did at my college newspaper and am now a proofreader at an awesome weekly paper. And I’m a baker, a career I started way before college, at age 8, when I began selling cookies at our neighborhood farmers’ market.
    So I never made up my mind enough to have to change it, but my career path(s) are definitely not what college had in mind for me — thank goodness!

    (P.S. I make doughnuts three times a week now, and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I try in vain not to eat all of the leftover doughnut holes. When I was a kid I went with my mom to visit some friends of my grandmother’s, who put out a plate of this delicious date cake. My mother finally reprimanded me for taking too many slices, but I said, “But that’s why they put them out — for us to eat, right?!” To me eating the cake was a sign of appreciation, and I know that’s what I would want my visitors to do if I offered them food.)
    Sometime you should come to VT, because I love to feed people doughnuts.

  29. idoscience responded on 12 Dec 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    I went to grad school, more because I didn’t know what to do with my life than anything else. I was good at lab work, but my Masters taught me that I am horrible at certain types of reasoning that you need to be a PhD level scientist. I was technically good at what I did, though, so I went back to professional school. That led to a good-paying job in health care, which then (because of my MSc!) led to an even better paying job after a couple years. Neither job was ever in my original plan, but I stumbled onto them based on my love of science and because I was willing to let go of my childhood dream of ‘real science’ to find my way to something better. I would never be where I am without my grad degree, though, even though I’m in a somewhat unrelated field. Great article!

  30. Elizabeth responded on 25 Jan 2013 at 1:00 am #

    I know I’m coming to this post a little late, but I just want to say YES! I went to grad school and then completely changed my mind. I got my Master’s in International Studies just through sheer force of will – I didn’t enjoy the process and I was miserable doing it, but I had convinced myself that I needed the degree and I was going to do it. I didn’t recognize that my career path was wrong for me until a two-year-long bout of depression forced me to wake up to reality. I have a great job – but it’s a great job for someone else.

    Now I am switching gears and working on leaving higher ed in order to be a farmer. I also really identified with one of your posts about your friend who was a tomboy in Carhartts… I felt like you were talking about me. :) I don’t enjoy having to wear ‘professional’ clothes and makeup every day (although it’s fun to get dressed up every now and then).

    It was so hard to admit to myself that I wanted to farm – and mostly because I’m a white, middle-class, educated woman and I wasn’t supposed to go down a blue collar path. But I was going down the white collar path that I was supposed to follow and I was miserable. Now, I am scared but also excited about the future. I’m finally finding out that life can be an adventure!

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    [...] just read a post, here, about a girl who chose a career path because of doughnuts. I’ve chosen doughnuts for lunch [...]