I’ve had a flurry of contact with two different graduate school programs over the past few weeks, most recently a phone interview for one program. The interview went incredibly well, which I found pleasantly surprising. We spent ten minutes or so covering my writing sample, and the ways that art relates to my work. We talked about why I want to go to graduate school, and I got to ask questions regarding the types of courses the particular professor who was interviewing me taught. After that, they asked me about my greatest literary and professional influences. I spent a good ten minutes talking about Chaucer. And I started thinking.
Nothing has stretched me more than college has. For the first time in a long time, I have found a community where I actually fit. I have found people to learn from and people to be friends with, people who think like I do and share my interests. People who have taught me new things and new skills, and helped shaped the skills that I already had into things I could use. People who have allowed and even encouraged me to be myself, and helped me to develop that self into someone that I am proud to call me. People who have helped me not to quit. I have never had a group of people, between the friends I have made and the professors who have both supported and enriched me, that have made me feel so comfortable being me. I am more grateful to each and every one of them than most of them will ever know.
This interview process combined with the weekly emails I’ve been exchanging with another school have made the process of graduate school very VERY real to me. As in, it is really happening. As in, it looks like I’m going. I might actually be accepted.
I’m going to be leaving where I am now behind. I am going to leave HERE.
I can’t decide how I feel about this. This place has made me who I am, reminded me how strong and independent and fully functional I can be. Presented with the prospect of doing an in-person interview for the school I phone-interviewed for, I suddenly find myself pondering where my identity comes from yet again. Can I be the person that I am now somewhere else, without the people who have helped me and taught me SO much? Can I be confident in another place, another setting, without people to lean on? I’m not sure if I can, and it scares me.
I pushed for graduate school because I wanted to be in a place that isn’t local, where my experiences are not the first thing that come to people’s mind when they see me. I pushed for graduate school because I wanted to get away. But now I’m not so sure. I’m not sure I’m ready to get away. I’ve been taught my whole life how to listen to others, and I don’t know how to listen to myself. I’m not sure this me can come with me, and I care for her very much.
I wrote something similar to D today, and she responded, “You will carry this with you wherever you are. This is yours no matter what.”
This kind of statement, from someone I greatly respect, is exactly what I’m talking about. The support I’ve found, the place that I’ve made for myself, is not something that I want to give up. I have grown from the person I was when I was with him into someone else entirely. I have learned how to be on my own. My advisor once told me that one of the greatest moments she has while teaching is the moment when a student does not need her anymore, when they can do things on their own. Through the guidance of my awesome professors, through the love and acceptance I have received from my friends, this is exactly the point I am arriving at. I have learned so much. I am at the point now where I have to start learning on my own, and have confidence that my ideas still matter even when they are just mine. This person that I am, as influenced and supported and cared about and accepted as she is, will still be me even if that goes away. Even if I’m on my own. Because the things that these wonderful people have taught me will always be with me. I will carry these things, and I will carry me; I will grow, and I will learn more things. I will carry the new things too. I will carry me, always. No matter what.
This is all totally new to me. I’ve become something totally new. But heck if I’m not scared.
I’m not ready to leave.