I have begun an adventure that I am not at all certain is a good idea. I hope that most adventures start this way.
About a month ago, I quietly applied to a graduate program in Creative Writing. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, despite it not making financial sense. After I graduated with my English degree, which is not at all applicable to what I do each day, I applied for graduate work nearly out of habit. I had been going to school for so long that I didn’t know any life but to rush home from work each day to do school work. I was accepted into a MFA program at American University, but I also landed a dream job at the same time. A dream job in New York, not D.C., where my classes would be held. I had to choose. I chose the job and financial stability, which has informed every decision I’ve made since.
Life is filled with these moments, these decisions we make that end up being the foundation for all the other aspects of our lives. If I had chosen school over the job, I would never have met my husband. I wouldn’t live by the beach, I wouldn’t be the person that I have ended up being as a culmination of the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had here. I’d be some other version of myself, someone informed by other people and other places. I might have met some other life partner. I might not have. I might have bought a house and had room for my brother to come live with us. I might have gotten this far without learning a great deal in the last four years about raising kids.
It would be easy to be caught up in those pivotal decisions, the what-ifs, but I have a stunning ability to make huge decisions with relatively little thought. I agonize over small choices (what shade of nail polish? which shoes to buy? will I take the earlier train or the later one?), but I rarely lose sleep over the big ones. Sometimes I worry about that part of myself, the devil-may-care big decision maker, but I think my inner self just realizes that I can roll with the punches.
The big decisions don’t really matter in the end. At some point, you move somewhere. You take a job doing something. You meet people that fill your life with what you’re looking for. The where and the what and the who are not really all that relevant. The decisions you make in response to these things matter and that forms who you are.
And the things that really matter, that you really want, you’ll find a way to make them happen. If you really want a thing, the distractions will distill away. If they don’t, you didn’t really want it as much as you thought you did. You put other things first. That’s okay – that’s life. Things change. It’s just a question of understanding your priorities.
And so it has been with grad school for me. I’m just not the writer that I want to be or that I feel that I should be by now. I want to be better. I think further study will help me a lot and so I’m going to do it. I know that a lot of my other interests, the knitting and the photography, have just been distractions from my own disappointment with myself on not following the writing dream through and giving up on it so very many times. I know that because I keep coming back to it, year after year after year. I should be writing more, I should be a better writer by now. And so I’m going to do what it takes to be a better writer; thirty-six credits of it culminating in a masters thesis in the form of a manuscript. I am raising the stakes on myself.
Let the adventure begin. I’m ready.