Friday, September 26, 2014


a.k.a., Scared Stiff of Grad School

anxiety -- noun
1. distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.

I have to tell you something.
I'm terrified.
Utterly, hopelessly terrified.

In my opinion, my life has been full of a few too many existential questions lately. I guess being a college senior who loves writing but still has no idea how she plans to feed and clothe herself will do that to you. There are a myriad of questions that are -- no, not metaphorically -- making me lose sleep at night.

I once thought that people who found their dream were lucky; that once you know what you're meant for, the toughest part is over. You basically know what you have to do to get there, the rest is just a matter of hard work and careful planning. (Okay, that's really simplifying it, I know, but bear with me . . . ) I knew there would be obstacles, but if it's your dream, it's worth it, right?

The funny thing is, no one ever told me that I would have doubts about my dream. The more writing courses I'm enrolled in, the more I discover that inspiration is not the limitless wellspring I once thought it was; it dries up pretty quickly, especially under a lot of stress. (Don't believe the rumors: working under pressure isn't actually all that productive for artists.) As someone who wants to go to grad school for creative writing next year, this is a horrifying realization. What if I go to an MFA program, and then can't write anything? What if this is all a phase, a spurt of artistic luck, and then three years down the road I discover that I don't have the stamina to be a lifetime writer? What will I do then?

There are other questions related to grad school and near-future plans, ranging from wondering if I'm applying to the right genre to wondering if I'm even applying to the right field. But a major concern, I have to admit, is the travel aspect. Yes, I'm a homesick sap -- the idea of going to school anywhere beyond a few hours drive from home puts a queasy feeling in my stomach. Facing an unknown place with unknown people all by my lonesome is not really my ideal adventure. What if I'm lonely; or don't know how to take care of myself; or can't handle sleeping in an apartment alone at night because those irrational fears of Slender Man coming after me suddenly increase by a hundredfold? At the end of the day, it seems like life is just one big fat question mark:

What if everything I'm doing is a mistake?

These were the kinds of questions infesting my thoughts one day at school. I could barely walk by my teachers in the hallway without feeling like I was going to have a meltdown. But on this particular morning, stepping into the escape of a public restroom, I had an epiphany--

--yes, in a bathroom stall, of all places.

I halted as I entered the stall and let the door clank shut behind me. Being located on the basement level, the windows in this restroom hung about five feet above the floor, extending the length of wall. For privacy purposes, this particular window was frosted, its whiteness grimy with age. I recognized the shadows of trees behind it. Cracks of sunlight flashed between branches as they shook in the wind, projecting on the glass as small, quivering circles. I found myself leaning back against the door, staring in ridiculous awe at these orbs of light as they danced madly across a sullied bathroom window.

That was when I remembered why I'm here. Why I'm a writer. Why everything is going to be okay. Because I know that, no matter where I go, or what I do, I can take my eyes, ears, hands, nose, and tongue with me. No matter what wrong turns I take, there will always be something beautiful to see.

anxiety -- noun
2. earnest but intense desire; eagerness

I have to tell you something.
I'm in love.
Utterly, hopelessly in love.

No comments:

Post a Comment