Saturday, February 5, 2011

Schroedinger's Cat & My (hopeful) Completion of Grad School

If you aren't familiar with Schroedinger's Cat (SC) I will post some links, and/or you can bear with me through a weak description of it:

Schroedinger was a physicist, his theory was that something has a singular outcome IF it is observable, if it is not then it could have more than one outcome at the same time. His theory involved putting a cat in a box along with some radioactive material, and a device for detecting radiation. The device was designed to, if it sensed the decay of the radioactive material, trigger a hammer which was poised to break a flask containing hydrocyanic acid, which, when released, would kill the cat. His theory postulated that since you cannot see the cat, and cannot know if the device has triggered the hammer, the cat is both alive AND dead at the same time. (Most of this information is not my own, but taken from:

What this has to do with grad school:

The SC thought experiment came to be because of a controversy between two theories in quantum mechanics. The first is the idea (Copenhagen Interpretation) that an object can exist in multiple states at once, that is until it is observed at which point it HAS to choose one probability - one outcome. The second theory (The Many-Worlds Theory) is the idea that it can continue to exist in multiple states and the universe will just split things into many parts to accommodate all possible outcomes.

This is like my current academic, educational, life, big picture, situation. The cat is either dead or alive (one outcome), but until it is observed it is both. My career & the purpose of (insert obscene $ figure) money I spent on grad school, all the stress, friendships, bad & good things, sacrifices, and crazy AND potential for success are in the box.

Being behind on my thesis, having issues at my internship, not having a video clip that is any good, or being prepared for my licensing exam on Monday, & whether or not (on account of all of those things) I will actually get my MA in April is the possibility of my Cat being dead. My deepest fear (in this) is that my cat is dead, that it was a mistake and will not pay off and I will fail - even if I do get my degree.

BUT there is a possibility that my Cat is alive, has purpose and will end up being worthwhile (not worth the debt necessarily) but the correct pursuit of a dream.

In discussing SC with my friend, she asked why we wouldn't just make the box see- through, because it's so frustrating not knowing if the cat is dead or alive why torment ourselves when we could just look? I told her that for me I don't want to see inside the box. Well I sort of do, but since I REALLY hope my cat isn't dead, even though it often feels like it is, I want it dark, sealed and unknown. Even if that means not knowing if my cat is alive.

How do I help my cat stay alive? Where is my confidence? Is this just my crazy running out of control?

Part of me wants to say: I am GOOD at this. I must be good at some of it. However the dark cloud I feel in my gut is gnawing away at my confidence and faith. But the fact that there is something remaining for it to gnaw at is hopeful, because it means my cat may still be alive.

In my heart, I love it, I do. I want to be amazing at school counseling. I want to be the best possible counselor. I have so much to learn that it terrifies me that I won't learn enough to be successful. But I hit wall after wall. I feel stuck. And this may be why. This prime example of my negativity. The pool in which I currently swim. I MUST GET OUT OF THE POOL.

I teeter between what is my being realistic, and what is my being borderline & histrionic? What is an area I can grow in, and what is something I am just not cut out for. That's the point though right? The whole experiment of Schroedinger's Cat. We won't know until we open the box, and really instead of speculating I might as well act as if the damn cat is alive!


a work in progress said...

Oops I forgot a second link:

GiGi Rivera said...

This was an awesome insight to what you were, and are, going through, Heather. I was thinking it should simply be a matter of faith that your "cat" is still alive. But faith, without confidence to bolster it, can fade quickly. So, at least for now, you must ACT as if your cat is alive. Good luck today with your exam,... what's that sound? Sounds like a faint mewing.

Heather said...

Thanks Mom!

mew mew mew

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel