I tell people that I’m going into a graduate program at The New School, and I get one of two responses: “What new school?” or some variation of “Holy crap, that school is amazing!” And these two statements are exact matches to the two halves of my brain: “I have no idea what I’m doing,” and “Damn, I’m amazing!” I wouldn’t have gotten in if I wasn’t a good writer; of course, I haven’t written anything of any real worth since I moved. I’m a small town girl in a big city, but sometimes it feels like I was always meant to be in a big city. For every statement, there’s a counterargument or an opposite.
My first day of being an undergraduate…I remember being pretty prepared. As soon as I registered for classes, I went to the campus and walked around to find all of my classes. I familiarized myself with my textbooks and the professors. I had all of the things I needed. And if I do say so, I was pretty damn successful at college. However, tomorrow is my first official day as a graduate student. Orientation. I feel woefully unprepared. I’m not sure where to go. I don’t know where my classes are. I don’t know what to expect in them. Plus, I don’t know anyone. I don’t like that feeling. I’m an introvert who likes my little close-knit group of people. We’re un-knit now. We are spread across the country. I feel like I don’t know anything anymore. But.
I need to love that feeling. Here’s why:
I don’t know anyone here. That means that no one here knows me. I can be what I want. I can write what I want. I can be seen, and I can be not seen. The limitations that being known has put on my life and my writing are gone here. While I might be posing right now in the places where I’m uncertain, for the first time in my life I am also totally free to be myself—whoever that might be.
I am posing in life, sure—there’s a lot I don’t know. And there’s nothing wrong with that. “Fake it ‘till you make it.” But I’m certainly not posing in my writing. A few months ago, right before graduation, I wrote the following: “I live a life of black and white. Good or bad. But perhaps I can be a fish who just swims with the other fish. One who doesn’t get eaten. one who is tough and strong and gets her things done. Maybe I can make my home in a new pond.” I’m a fish, and I’m here. And maybe I don’t look like the other fish, but my writing will speak for itself. I will be just fine.
So, in the morning, I will put on a dress and some nice jewelry, and I’ll do my hair, and I’ll go to Union Square and pretend that I belong there. Until someday, I do.
Because I will.