Monday, December 15, 2014

The Grad School Journey

A long, long time ago, back before my mission (which feels like a galaxy far, far away), I had aspirations to go on to grad school. I'm not sure why. It just seemed like something I would do. That kind of got lost in my post-mission identity crisis, but it was still always in the back of my mind. When I graduated a year ago, I wanted to eventually explore my options down the grad school path, but it got pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of finding a job and then working full time--not to mention the fact that I was burned out from school.

When I walked at graduation in April, I knew. I was sitting in the Marriott Center at the Humanities Convocation, and I was reflecting on my undergraduate experience and I just knew that I needed to go back to school. Which was terrifying because 1) the possibility of rejection and 2) I still didn't know what I wanted to do as far as a career. I couldn't just spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to get another piece of paper and still be in my same situation in a year or two. But I missed school, I wanted to go back, and I really started feeling like I needed to make it happen eventually. 

The following Sunday, I was reading my patriarchal blessing during Church. There's a lot in it about my education, but one sentence has always . . . I don't want to say "bothered" me, because family is important and my highest aspiration in life is to eventually be a mother, but it always kind of made me wonder about whether or not I'd actually go on to grad school. It basically tells me to always remember that the most important thing will be to teach my family correct principles, and I used to think that meant sacrificing personal goals like school or a career for my family. But as I was reading it that Sunday, it changed. It became the catalyst for me to go to school. It doesn't matter if grad school will or will not lead me into a good career (although that is definitely a BIG hope). What matters is that I love to learn, and this degree will make me a better person, and it will help prepare me to teach my friends and family about the Gospel and life. And so even though I still wasn't sure that it was right, I had confidence that it was. I felt like I could justify a decision a leap in the dark going to school without a definite path, because God had told me it would be beneficial. 

Well, long story short: work happened and summer adventures happened and I got bogged down by a lot of things and grad school plans got pushed to the side until August when I got fed up with my life. I was moving to Salt Lake, hated my job, and couldn't find another one, so I took it as a sign that I just wasn't supposed to work right now. I took the plunge, quit my job, and decided to focus solely on grad school.

I've since had a blessing where God told me that this is the right thing. He wants it to happen, and it's part of his plan for me. I have often returned to my patriarchal blessing, because all throughout are promises about my education and my future. I felt a lot of guidance in deciding which schools to apply to. I had a lot of divine help when I took the GRE, as manfiest by a perfect score on the verbal and writing. I have had a lot of professional help on my application from friends and professors. And I even have had a lot of emotional help from the Lord because I have only really freaked out about this whole thing once, which is a big deal. 

I submitted application 2 of 8 today, which is what inspired this post. There are still a lot of fears and worries. But honestly--it's okay. I know that this is right. I don't feel a pressing need to know where I'll be in 8-9 months, because I know I'll be where I'm supposed to be. I'm still far from done with this journey, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm actually on a path that leads somewhere.

1 comment:

Shauna Black said...

Thanks for writing this. I don't know you super well, but you've always struck me as being super competent and smart and capable. It reassures me that you also have the struggle of figuring out, OK, what am I going to do with my life, including your patriarchal blessing. It's been a huge pressure on me lately especially with the holidays and family being like, okay, you're graduating in a couple months, now what. And I don't know. Work sounds monotonous, but I'm so burnt out by school and I hate the idea of more even though I've always dreamed of grad school. I haven't even taken the GRE even though I should have months ago because I can't face the idea of applying. I hope you get into grad school, and I hope you love it.