I escaped the millennial kid downfall of unceasing comparison and pressure to do something great (Part 1 of this post) after realizing three things:
- I’m pretty stupid and powerless on my own
- No one cares if I don’t do anything great. They’d be impressed, but it wouldn’t make them like me anymore. Even God … he loves me because of who I am, not what I do.
- People just don’t wake up and have these lofty missions they set out on. It happens step by step. Yes, you need to have goals and set out to achieve them. But pick something in your sphere. It would be dumb for me to decide to become a world-class guitarist when I’ve never played an instrument. Music dreams are for other people, and that is ok. I cannot and never will be good at everything.
In other words, don’t try do this:
So I decided to play my cards the best way I knew how. I let go of the pressure and finally got a rational hold on my plans for next year. Another way to say this is “temporarily lower expectations,” haha.
After a couple of dead ends regarding this summer’s plans, (study abroad trip was in the works, but fell through; then summer school at Baylor was in the works, but financial aid fell through), I finished the spring semester still without a clear direction of my next academic steps. I was registered for Fall classes, but hadn’t paid yet and didn’t know if I had enough scholarship to afford it.
I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to complete the last two semesters of grad school, since I felt so uninspired after last year (my fault for not engaging in it enough, not the program’s or Baylor’s fault). I moved out of my apartment in Waco without a place lined up for next year.
I had outlasted the worst finals week ever and an exhausting move, and after just a week back at home in Austin the old stressors were forgotten. Between family dinners, seeing old friends, riding my mountain bike a lot, starting to run again (after 6 months off from stress fracture), and getting hired at an awesome Austin running store, I was renewed and ready to tackle the school vs. no school decision.
The call of academia won out… in spite of many obstacles. What kid doesn’t fantasize about just quitting school? But I decided if I could swing it financially (i.e. not go into debt) then I should finish grad school. Ok, so how?
Enter summer school at the University of Texas in Austin. Getting graduate school credit at another school is a pretty unusual situation and I wasn’t sure it would work, but I had nothing to lose. Here’s what it took to get into UT grad school and register for classes that could transfer to Baylor…
- an online application
- a flurry of emails and phone calls to circumvent those pesky admission deadlines which I’d obviously missed
- a meningitis vaccine
- a lot of pestering the faculty at Baylor and UT with my questions and repeated requests for string pulling
- One big check for registration
The application process got more and more personal, moving from the internet and phone calls to in-person office visits with personal pleas and hard-copy permission slips to register. By the last possible day to register, I was running around UT’s admissions and registrar’s office performing my business in the most low-tech fashions. The Advertising department (which houses the PR curriculum, my major) admitted me as a non-degree-seeking student and two days after summer school had technically started … baby, I was in.
The whole process restored my faith in people in bureaucratic educational institutions. This set-up was not in the playbook, but a lot of people in various offices (UT admissions, UT registrar, Baylor grad school, Baylor JPR&NM, UT grad school, UT Adv. department, UT Ed Psych dept) made the personal efforts to push my app through and get me where I needed to be.
I’m stoked because now I basically get the best of both worlds: I can finish grad school cheaper (1 semester at UT = cheaper than 1 at Baylor, as well as not having to pay to live in Waco during the spring semester) and quicker (a semester early, graduating in fall 2013).
It was the next step.
What I mean by all this is that I didn’t get here because I set out to achieve something superhuman. Taking two advertising courses and an Ed Psych course is not that big of a deal. Getting in wasn’t easy, and I wanted to quit trying often, but I held out. Now, having embarked on that path and knowing it was the right one is the best feeling. I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and this makes me the happiest that I’ve been in over a year.
So how do you know where you’re supposed to be? You just have to figure it out. See what doors are open. If you don’t know where to go, sometimes it’s ok to take the path most easily traveled, the one laid out in front of you. I did this by deciding to stay in school instead of quitting school and starting my job search this summer ;)
Worst case, you screw up some decision and you delay your ultimate future by a year? Who cares? It’s not like you stop existing for that year. You learn, you grow, you meet people, you struggle, you achieve.
Life is an ebb and flow, sometimes easy and sometimes hard. And it doesn’t have to be like this:
Adventure is out there no matter where you look. In the end, the only pressure we have to do anything or be someone is what we put on ourselves. Pick a course, stick to it, but know that it’s only temporary. Enjoy the ride.