I don't really want a degree.
There are many good reasons to get a PhD. Probably lots of people get say, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees, because they just want a degree, but the number of people who get a PhD just for the sake of getting a degree is (in my opinion) lower (for example, you might want to teach at the university level, see answers here). This is partly because a PhD is in some sense harder and more time-consuming that bachelor's/masters degree, but also that the degree isn't really the point of a PhD, see for example, this answer here by Pete L. Clark. To very briefly summarize, a PhD is a way to 'learn how to learn' and the stuff that you learn is a lot less important than the process of obtaining said knowledge. So your statement that you 'don't really want a degree' worries me a bit. I mean, the degree is not the point, and wanting a PhD is not at all the same as wanting a degree in general. Why did you apply to PhD programs? What was your motivation? What are your goals?
I just want to get married, and have
weekends and evenings off, and chill out and play board games, and
have nice conversations with friends, and have time to exercise and
eat good food, and partake in hobbies, and read books and play
computer games and watch movies and write a novel or two.
Don't we all! Anyway, you know, you can do these things as a graduate student. This is easier/harder depending on your exact circumstances/stage of graduate career, but certainly doable. I recently graduated (with my PhD in mathematics), but in my graduate department on Friday nights a lot of us hung out at the grad student bar and then repaired to the department lounge to play boardgames often to the early hours of the morning. Some of us came in to work over the weekends, but not all of us. Anyway, even while physically in the department, we would visit each other's offices and goof off fairly regularly. Okay, for us goofing off also often involved talking about mathematics, so it wasn't entirely a waste of our time. In any case, chilling out and nice conversations with friends occurred throughout the workweek as well. In the first few years of graduate school, I did a really good job of eating right and reading and such, since my time was a lot more structured, and I was able to plan relatively well. Much of my department were regulars at the gym, and quite a few of us were spotted running on the jogging track (some of us were/are pretty good at this stuff: for example, one of did quite well in the Houston marathon and a current student is doing some awesome Crossfit things these days). During major exams, or thesis-writing, or trying to get a paper out, these things got a bit harder of course. Aside from fitness, many of us did well with hobbies. Some of us were hardcore gamers – we even had an informal Magic the Gathering tournament periodically among the grad students; others enjoyed cooking – the rest of us enjoyed the food they would bring in to share; I enjoyed jigsaw puzzles – for a while we did jigsaws in my office, where others in the dept would drop by to puzzle for a bit when they needed a break from work; one of us was in a band, others in in/formal choirs and such; I and some others were involved to various extents in students organizations; and so on. Some number of us got married while in graduate school (not me personally), and one of the students in my cohort had a child as well. How did we do all this stuff? We had an advantage in being mathematics graduate students, since we are not tied to a lab as our counterparts in the rest of the STEM fields, and we had the advantage of being in a department with supportive faculty (who sometimes joined us for weekly boardgames and graduate student bar hangouts) and awesome fellow students.
The most important part of the above list though, were the awesome fellow students. I was in a small department, so it was natural for us all to hang out together, but perhaps you're in a large department where this is harder. Try to find some fun fellow students. They are possibly feeling much of the same things that you are, and if they are in your department they possibly share your interests. If you don't know too many people (if this is your first or second year in the program), organize something – a movie night at your home, a potluck, or a boardgame night. You might be surprised at how many of your fellow students also want to find someone to chill with.
The second most important thing is time management and prioritization. Figure out what's important to you, and then figure out a way to do it. You might have to be very disciplined and focused during the workday so you can run in the evenings, or play boardgames every weekend. But, if there's one thing I learned in grad school, it's that the number of hours you work is not as important as the quality of work you are getting done. You might end up spending less time overall on work, but if you're happier in general, you will probably do better work in the smaller amount of time. For example, I absolutely need some time every week that I can be at home by myself watching TV, probably with multiple cats napping on me. This might seem like wasted time to the outside observer, but really it's time that I need to recharge so that I can get actual work done at other times. That's just the way I work.
I like my research, and I like my advisor,
That's really great. I mean this sincerely. The opposite is sadly far too common.
but I feel like I work a
lot harder than my friends in industry, and I'll be putting my life on
hold for at least the next two years, while I'm finishing classes and
Well, to be frank, it is possible that you are working harder than your contemporaries and that you are putting your life on hold, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
Lots of people have lots of life-changing stuff happen in their mid-20s. For example, it seemed to me for a while that everyone that I knew in my age group was getting engaged, married, or having kids. I decided to count in 2013 and here is what I found
- 51 people I know got married i.e. about 1 wedding per week.
- 31 people I know got engaged i.e. about 2.5 engagements per month.
- 19 people I know had a baby i.e. about 1.5 babies per month.
(The count is with multiplicity, that is, if two people I know independently get married, I counted two weddings. There were no twins/multiple births that I'm aware of.) That's pretty intense!
These are all cool people and I wish them all the luck, but I don't want to be getting married and having kids just because all my friends seem to be (I mean, what an odd story to tell your grandkids someday).
Again, yes a PhD is hard work, hard work that doesn't ever get compensated for in any 'real' way. But the point of the PhD is not some eventual reward, the point of the PhD is really just the process of the PhD. Most likely I will never make the same amount of money as my friends with MBAs; they will probably have fancier job titles than me, and depending on where we are in the world, they might get more respect and power as well. But (forgive me) a PhD craves not these things. If you want prestige, power and such things, a PhD is not the right way to go at all.
If you're getting a PhD chances are that you have somewhat different priorities than the average person (which is fine, just as the average person's goals are also just fine). My friends who are younger than me have much more seeming grown-up lives true, but they are on a different track than me, and it doesn't really make sense to compare.
Frankly I don't feel like I can survive the next
year, and just the thought of staying here for the next few months
makes me depressed.
This is concerning. Please consider talking to someone directly. It's great that you asked AC.SE this question, but we are after all strangers on the internet. Talk to someone you know and trust. Your university probably has a counseling center. Talk to your advisor/mentor.
Graduate students are often discouraged and depressed (I was no exception, see here), for example, see this article. The 'usual' discouragement often passes, but it is not uncommon for us to have undiagnosed mental/emotional health issues. A trained professional is a much better person to talk to about these things, and I hope you will consider doing so.
The problem is if I wasn't a PhD student, I'd just be another fat ugly
loser with no social status, and nobody would love me or think I was
This seems very unlikely to me. From just this question itself I see that you enjoy reading, and playing boardgames and video games, and enjoy good food and hanging out with friends; from this I see that you have hobbies and interests, and enjoy people. You asked this question, from which I gather that you can be introspective and that you are giving actual sincere thought to what you want to do with your life. This is all from this one question. The poster of this question seems like an interesting person to me.
Some of us are fat and some of us are less than conventionally attractive. Each of these things comes with barriers that one has to overcome. Conventionally attractive folks have their own set of hoops to jump through too. Yes, there do exist people in the world who think 'this person is overweight/stick-thin/different race than me/unattractive/the opposite gender/something else and therefore I do not value them', and those people can go f* themselves. There are enough of the rest of us too though.
I wouldn't be taken as seriously when it came time to apply
for jobs, and people would think I was stupid or at least not any
better than someone with a bachelor's degree.
That's kind of a judgmental statement about people with bachelor's degrees. Anyway, all of this depends on what kinds of jobs you're applying for. There are some jobs where having a PhD would actually hinder you (see here).
At least now I can apply
for internships and get interviews. And because I am a PhD student at
a top school, people assume I'm smart,
This is also a worrying statement. It's possible that I'm misinterpreting your statement, but in case I'm not, please look up imposter syndrome, it's distressingly common in academia; in short, this is a phenomenon where despite much evidence to the contrary, someone is convinced that they do not deserve the success that they have achieved (also see this question).
which also helps me find dates,
even though I'm obese, wear glasses, and dress poorly.
If you think that wearing glasses is hurting your ability to date, you could wear contacts. Similarly you could try to dress better (I recommend the show 'What Not to Wear'), or try to lose weight.
It puts me in a
different "league" and if I quit I'd have to go back to dating losers
who only want me because they can't find any other girlfriends.
The people I know that are single do not all look alike, or dress alike, or all have poor vision. There isn't much that's common to them than the fact that they are single. You seem to be saying that if there were two individuals who were identical in every way except that one is in a PhD program that the grad student version would get more dates – I simply do not buy this. I might be willing to accept that this would be a true of a man, but I absolutely do not buy it for women.
If you think someone is dating you just because they can't find another girlfriend, please dump them. Similarly, if you think someone is dating you just because you are a PhD student, please dump them just as fast.
Also if I quit my PhD, I would never be able to come back,
I know this guy who was a PhD student in my department (mathematics) in the 60s, didn't finish, left with his master's and was teaching in community college. He kept doing math on his own time though, and he came up with something cool, enough that a faculty member he had been in touch with got him back into our program and he eventually got his PhD in 2011. He is an inspiration. (See here for more such stories). So, yeah, I disagree with this statement.
and what if
my new job ended up sucking, or I couldn't even get a job?
Yeah, it's possible. But it's possible that you couldn't get a job with a PhD. Or that the earth is destroyed tomorrow to make way for an interstellar bypass. But worrying about this will not help us in any way.
I do like
my work, and I'm glad I get to do such interesting stuff, I just wish
there was less of it.
You know, reading your question, it really seems to me that it's not that there's too much work, but more that there isn't as much fun non-work in your life right now. I would really suggest trying to build a social circle among your fellow graduate students, not only for having people to do fun things with, but also for people in similar situations to talk to. I know that for me it was really helpful to talk to my fellow students about my doubts and concerns, because we were all in the same boat. It sounds like you are very concerned about dating, so for what it's worth, lots of graduate students I know dated other graduate students.
While on the subject of dating, please consider whether you're giving too much thought to it. It is nice to have a partner that you can talk to, who will support you and care for you when needed, but finding such a person doesn't need to be take over your life. I strongly believe that successful relationships are composed of people that are also happy on their own and in their own skins. Perhaps it might be worthwhile to work on your own happiness for a while before seeking out a partner, particular since when having self-esteem concerns it is very easy to find oneself in abusive and/or unbalanced relationships.
I would also recommend that you give some serious thought to what you value most in your life and what you want to do with it. What are you looking for? What is your dream job? It will probably help to talk to someone directly about such things too. You said that you like your advisor, so they might be a good person to talk to. Most of us that have been through graduate school have dealt with these things to some extent.
Depending on this self-examination, you might decide that a PhD is not for you. This is fine. Or, you might decide to stick with it. This is fine too. With the caveat that you're doing it for the right reasons. Some of us hang on to PhD programs with this notion that 'quitting is bad'. That's a poor reason to stay in a PhD program. On the other hand, if you truly enjoy doing what you're doing, and you want to keep doing it for the rest of your life, that's a great reason to hang in there. If you want to stay in the program so that some hypothetical someone might deign to date you, that's a poor reason to stick around, and also such a person clearly isn't worth your time.
Getting a PhD can be hard work, probably harder work than your contemporaries are doing in industry (I speculate, I've never had a job in the real world). It is rewarding in its own way though, to some people. This isn't a value judgment. Math makes me feel like a complete idiot almost all the time. The remaining 0.01% of the time is pretty good though, and that's enough for me. Mostly this makes me a masochist I think, but that works for me. But it makes perfect sense for it to not work for everyone, and honestly these other folks are probably better adjusted anyway.
Lastly, your last paragraph makes me think that you're worried that you're making irreversible decisions. You're not. If you choose to leave your PhD program now, you can still come back to get a PhD (probably somewhere else). If you started your PhD with the goal of being in the academic world, but decide later that you want to be in industry, you can still do that. If you want to start back from scratch and work in sociology (say), you can still do that too. These things might require some work, but they are all still possible.
Best of luck in your decision-making! I'd like to reiterate, pretty much all of us wanted to quit at some point, and pretty much all of us wondered why we were doing it. You're not alone!