Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coming Full Circle: a Saga of Revelation and Decisions and Grad School in Chicago

I've talked a lot about grad school recently--and also in the past. Well, as most of you who are reading my blog probably already know, I have made a final decision. While I still don't know what the next move after the program (called MAPH) is, in the fall I will be moving to Hyde Park in Chicago to earn a masters degree in Humanities from:

The thought of Chicago is still pretty surreal to me. I had 4 other acceptances, all from fantastic schools. I had been offered thousands and thousands of dollars from one. My decision was very, very difficult, but also surprisingly easy. In a blessing right before I went on my trip to visit and make a final decision, I received a promise that I would "know with a certainty" where I needed to be; that is, where God wanted me. Chicago just felt right. And, you know, I think a part of me always knew that I was going to end up at U of C--just like I always knew I would go to BYU and study English, just like I knew I was always going to go on a mission.

I don't know when exactly it started, maybe even as far back as freshman year, but it was definitely before my mission. I don't know why, but somehow I grew attached to the idea of going to grad school at the University of Chicago. I had never been there. All I really knew about Chicago was that camp song "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" and that my great-grandmother was born there to German immigrants. I assumed I'd be going to grad school in English lit, but I just thought that grad school in/at Chicago was my future.

When I got back from my mission, it took me a little while to come back to the grad school dream. I wandered. I was lost. I had always just known through this weird type of personal revelation what I was supposed to do and now I had no idea what was supposed to come next. Looking back, this wandering helped me recognize that grad school is something I really wanted and needed, as well as helped me build a stronger application.

When I decided which schools to apply to, University of Chicago was an automatic in. Yes, I had questions about the program and whether it was right for me and many other things, but it was what I had always wanted (again, for some really odd and undetermined reason). And even though there were moments when I felt uneasy and uncertain about it (mostly as I worked on my application), I think I was mostly resigning myself to the fact that maybe I wouldn't get in or, even if I did get in, God would lead me somewhere else. But get in I did, and Heavenly Father definitely gave me strong and clear certain knowledge that Chicago is where I need to be.

It's really funny to look back at the past few years of my life. 5 years ago if you were to ask me where I was going to grad school, I would have said Chicago. And yet, I have spent so much of the past 3 years worrying about my future and how everything was uncertain and this was new because I had always just known the next steps. Now that I am actually going to Chicago, it's so funny to realize that I knew all along where I needed to be and where I would end up. I might have taken the long road there. I might have not recognized that as actual revelation until very recently. I might have made everything much more difficult than it needed to be. (And by "I might have" in all those sentences, I mean that I did.) But I don't know if I would have gotten in without the extra years of experience and preparation. And without the extra journeying, I might always be questioning whether or not it was actually right, whereas now I know that it is.

So now I'm on the other side, and I have learned a lot about myself, personal revelation, the Lord, my future . . . I could go on. And this is truly right for me. I mean, just look at it!

University of Chicago is Hogwarts/Oxford in a big city. It is basically a dream, and it is beautiful, and I love the city of Chicago, and this place is perfect in pretty much every way for me. In a lot of ways I feel like my soul is there; in a lot of ways it's already home. But really, I feel like I'm coming full circle, blending my old and new selves, because part of me always knew that Chicago was where I belonged.
All pictures in this post are from