The Little Prince, Emotional Investment, and my Graduate Studies

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The quote above is from the children’s book “The Little Prince”. This book was originally written in French but has been translated over 300 different languages and is considered to be one of the most famous French works of fiction.

It’s a great book for sure but what impresses me more than the accolades was how the author is able to so clearly explain mature themes such as emotional investment and attachment in a deep way yet still manages to be realateable even to children.

I came across this book only in this past academic year but it still has made an impact on my understandings of how I emotionally invest in things in my personal life. Please allow me to explain with the following quote:

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”

“To establish ties?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I read this quote as the fox explaining to the Little Prince that if he invests himself emotionally into the fox then this ordinary fox will take on greater importance to the Little Prince.

I relate to this quote because at this time in my life, my fox is my career, my graduate studies. Now that I’m 3-4 years in, my ambitions to get a PhD have taken on deeper meaning to me. For example my career now symbolizes a lot of the sacrifices I’ve made for it. It represents the stable and steady income jobs that I could have taken instead of going to grad school. It represents the relationships with my friends and family, who I now miss from time to time because I chose to move to university in a far away state. It even represents a little bit of my physical and mental health since I’ve once been injured on my motorcycle riding to work (I bought the motorcycle for the explicit purpose of having a faster commute to work) and I get stressed if my research hits a wall for a long time.

Hence my career carries a lot of weight with it. If or when it comes time for me to leave academia I know that it will be difficult for me. It won’t feel like leaving a commonplace 9-5 job. There will be a lot more gravity to it.



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