I decided to go to grad school for a lot of reasons. To have an adventure. To get away from a boy. To find my passion. To work towards an attainable goal.
In a few months I will have accomplished this great thing--getting my master's degree. I don't feel like I deserve it. I'm hoping that feeling will change once I receive my diploma.
Three years ago I applied to grad school because I thought that if I was really going to pursue writing as a profession, I couldn't get there on my own. I needed more training and more professional contacts. I also needed to feel like I was working towards something instead of being consumed by feelings of uncertainty and fear about the future.
The year between graduating from college and starting grad school is not one I'd care to repeat. My best friend was miles away serving a church mission, a romantic relationship I'd hoped would blossom combusted instead, and I had no idea what I was going to do for a job after my internship. I was alone and completely lost.
In an attempt to figure out my life and what to do next, I found a therapist and spent every Monday for nine months in his office. Slowly and painfully, I found enough courage and clarity to make an important decision about my future.
Grad school was never part of my plan but I'm not surprised I ended up there. I've spent the majority of my life performing well in school. School has always been a safe place and an environment where I feel at ease.
The funny thing is grad school has never felt safe or comfortable. They're have only been a few moments where I've felt really good about the work I produced or loved what I was doing. Every story has required an enormous amount of effort just to finish, let alone finish well. Despite my lack of confidence in my performance, I've had several professors praise my work and encourage me to pursue writing as a full-time career.
I don't regret the decision to go to grad school or move to Chicago, but like most things in life, I'm not where I'd thought I'd be by now. I still have a lot of the same questions about my future that I did three years ago. Plus, I'm in a lot more debt than when I started. I thought I'd find this great passion in grad school but that hasn't been the case. My career path isn't linear and I'm learning to accept that.
I need to figure out what's next, but this time I don't feel the same despair or pressure that I did three years ago. I'm more comfortable not having all the answers. I also feel more prepared and in a better place to tackle some of the personal issues I wasn't ready to face. Even though I still have a lot of questions about who I am and where I'm going, I'm proud of myself for choosing to do something with my life rather than sitting back and waiting for something to happen.
Even though the future is still scary, it's also exciting. What job will I have next? Will I finally start to date? How long will I live in Chicago? Where will I be a year from now?
What will life look after grad school? I don't know and that's finally ok.