Life is best when it has a rhythm. It doesn’t have to be totally predictable, completely scheduled, planned to a tee… I just need there to be an ebb and flow. Underneath the every day happenings, there has to be something rolling forward, a subtle momentum, a slow beat.
After almost five semesters, I’m beginning to wonder if the song that is Graduate School involves a complete disruption of any kind of rhythmic peace every so often.
That I should probably stop getting so bent out of shape and just see it as part of the game.
This time it feels worse.
I don’t even want to get into specifics because they are too confusing for written words, and my possible choices only analyzed by painstakingly complicated schedules typed up in Excel.
The main players have returned:
A) A potentially lost source of income
B) A potentially time-sucking but definitely fun and maybe career-valuable (and, of course, unpaid) internship
C) A few potentially pocketbook lining options
D) Two definitely time consuming and stressful summer courses
E) A financially insecure near-future
If A falls through for sure then I would have time to manage B and maybe C, but what if A comes back and I’m tied to B and C and can’t handle D? What if A falls through and I say no to C and then E screws me over for the foreseeable future?
It’s like someone’s asking me to create this delicately balance of Money, Career Preparation, Academics, and My Own Sanity,
but without any indication of what I can and cannot count on.
It be easier if I could choose.
If I knew for sure that I wanted to be a rockstar, career-ladder-climbing, children’s lit glitterati Big City Girl, then the choice would be easy (B above all else).
If I wanted to pursue teaching/writing/scholaring/learning, I would make sure as hell I was well-rested and attentive enough for D, even if that meant financial sacrifice.
If I just wanted to breeze through the program, get a job wherever, but be solvent, as debt-free as possible, and ready for the next step, whatever it may be, then C would be the most prudent choice to focus on.
But every day I feel differently.
Every day, things shift under my skin.
My gut sounds like this:
“Be prepared for emergencies, for your next step, which doesn’t have anything to do with what career you choose, but with the cultivation of your personal life, your home life. Your schooling only serves your future earning ability, so treat it as such. A shiny career is not going to make you happy. A big city lifestyle is not going to make you happy. You don’t need to do everything to be happy. You don’t need to do everything to be successful.”
But I’ve often suspected my gut of underestimating my own abilities.
So now the problem isn’t crafting the right schedule or making the best budget or planning for every possible option, but questioning my internal compass and therefore every decision I ever make.
Maybe these intermittent moments of crises are not just part of the rhythm of grad school, but moments in which the internal conflicts I work REALLY HARD at avoiding and the crucial choices I fail to make in favor of doingeverything suddenly demand my attention.
These decisions get buried in the day-to-day busy-ness of being a working grad student; it’s easy to put off major life choices when you have somewhere to be, something to do, something to read, something to write….
and at the junctures, when it comes time to shed one semester and fit the next, I pay for my neglect. I have no idea which choice to make, I panic, I say “yes” to everything and sacrifice my time/health/sanity time after time because I just don’t want to think about it.
So here we are again.
It would be helpful if I wasn’t so happy.
(It’s easy to pretend that saying yes to something new will change your life when you are gloomy, but I’m not. I don’t want to break things. I am terrified of breaking things.)
It would be helpful if I would make these realizations with more than a day left
to decide where my future is heading.