You’re prompting me to think about a friend who graduated with a master’s degree in physics this year. He was part of an elite, accelerated program that almost literally killed him, and that did kill his passion for physics.

He was so overwhelmed with mind bogglingly difficult, time-consuming work that he spent years of his life in a constant state of toxic stress.

Far from being lazy, he’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. Yet he declined to pursue the PhD several of his advisers told him was his for the asking. He just couldn’t take it anymore.

But he did have many people (including some of those advisors) encouraging him positively, and now he’s in a master’s program in the liberal arts, still working hard while he tries to find his equilibrium.

If people hadn’t encouraged him and given him positive feedback, he might have felt forced to quit before getting even the physics degree.

If people had shamed him, he probably wouldn’t be continuing his education at all.

The connection you make to voting apathy is fascinating. I had never thought about it that way before. Thank you for writing about it.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.