Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I learn that I don't and that I need more time and life experiences.
Hop aboard the greatest roller coaster of all time. We've got twists and turns and loops and speed and sudden stops. Guaranteed fun, thrills, screams, laughter, excitement--soon as you sit back, strap up, and settle in.
Picture me riding this roller coaster called life.
At the end of last week, after I settled on my plans to pursue the MFA Creative Writing-mind you, I scooted an email out to my creative writing professor from a couple of semesters ago telling her my decisions, and asking her opinion. It was a long email. A vent, if you will. I told her I wanted someone to be honest with me. And that I needed to know if it was truly worth it and potentially helpful for me to pursue an MFA instead of the others. I also told her that I wanted someone to be honest with me--the reality is that most writers won't publish, I'm fine with that--where should I focus my energies to position myself to not be "degreeful" and jobless in five years. I also told her I need someone to be honest with me.
Before I tell you how she rocked my world, let me remind you what my life goals are:
-Full-time, at-home, homeschooling mom till kids are well into double-digit ages (teenagers or later).
-Writing life (both academic and creative).
-Artist life (showing in select shows once or twice a year).
-Maintaining an edible garden year round.
-Part-time adjunct professor teaching composition, literature, and creative writing.
-Teaching textile art classes, when life permits.
Basically, when I grow up I want to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling, mom, artist/writer, part-time professor and full-time gardener and baking extraordinaire.
I know, not complicated and highly probable. ^__^
Back to my wonderful professor (who has a Ph.D.). She told me that I needed to think bigger, brighter, higher, and further. She told me that I was capable of more. She told me that no matter how academic I become, I would never loose my creativity. She told me I didn't need an MFA to become a great writer--as I am already on my way. She told me that I had something special to offer students. She told me I can. I can. I can.
I can get a Ph.D.
And that I should seriously, as in stop thinking everything your thinking now, put thought into what I can accomplish, and what I should accomplish--again, a Ph.D.
Hold on, whiplash. Let me fix my neck.
I never allowed myself to think that high. MA English? sure, I can accomplish that. Ph.D.? Oh wait, pump your breaks, you do know my name is Kiandra, right? You do know who you're talking to, correct?
Before I type on for another thousand words, because let's be honest, I am going to discuss this thoroughly; let me tell you that you must never set your goals at what you "think" you can do. No, you must set them higher, further, out in the realm of Jupiter, Saturn, or dare I say Neptune. What ever you think you can do, you can do--plus about 75% more.
She is an amazing professor. Loving and gentle, but also insightful, wise, and willing to challenge you with honesty. She sees the you that you don't see. Every student should have one, five would be great, professors like this. And I urge you, cultivate relationships with those professors who care, are wise, and are willing to offer guidance. Stay after class. Ask them about their life/academic/professional experiences. Let them know who you are. Express why you are pursuing what you are pursuing. Build relationships.
But first you need to get clear about who you are, and what you want. Gosh, here I go again--I know it is getting old--but this is one reason why I stepped away from fb. I found myself defining myself through outside influences. And, let me be the first to tell you that I am not that impressionable. But, something happens when you watch or are keen to what others are doing. You start to define yourself in relation to them. "Oh, I don't want to do that...Oh, that's what I want/use to want...Oh, what if I did that then/now/in the future." Please don't get me wrong, I do think this is healthy, and is a normal part of human behavior, but the problem is comparing ourselves to too many people, and people who are not truly aligned to our life goals.
We don't think we do it; the comparing sneaks up on us--perhaps through the back door, or a crack in the window seal of our psyche. Before you know it, you start to synthesize who you are based on others, society, etc.
Let me go off on a meaningful tangent here. I wrote a paper last week about a book I'm reading, Moll Flanders--Daniel DeFoe, and I wrote that her identity was a synthesized identity based off her constant reactions to what labels society (oppressive to women at the time-17th Century British) places on her. Moll becomes a prostitute, a criminal, she marries her brother, the list goes on and on, but all of these reactions to her situations is because she lacks identity.
That is what I do not want for myself. I want to make career and educational decisions because I am following passion, innate talent, and drive. It is hard to see your true reflection when you allow so many fingerprints on your mirror. This does not mean we don't need others, but that they should be reflective of who we are. In the best way, those people should be a reflection--a mirror if you will--of who you are, not fingerprints.
I've done my research. I've dug deep down inside. I've written out who I want to be and what I want to become when I grow up. I've talked to the people who know me, love me, and have been a part of my life journey. I've talked to my kids, my most honest reflections. I've prayed and held a few conversations with God in the shower. I've focused on what I'm most grateful in my life.
And through all of that I still don't know 100%, but I am very close, 95%. The other 5% is me waiting for the continual direction from God. I believe I know, but I could be wrong. I won't know until God makes it possible.
With that I am preparing myself for everything. After all, luck is when hard work meets opportunity, right? Although I leave it in God's hands, I do know that I must do my part. I must take the first steps. I must work hard. I must be grateful. I must be mindful. I must be honest. That is me doing my job, so that God may do his/hers.
I will be applying to two different Ph.D programs, one based solely on English and another where I would get a dual Ph.D in Cultural Studies and English (getting MA's in both along the way). I'm also applying to my current Uni for their MA English Lit program along with another Cal State's MA program. I will also apply to a couple of different MFA programs. None of this is entirely set in stone; during this year I may change preferences of Universities after I visit and talk with counselors. But the point is I am not limiting myself to just what I think I can do, I'm aiming out there towards Neptune.
There are fears. GRE anyone? But, I've managed to turn those fears and pieces of apprehension into excitement and pieces of anticipation, expectation. I tell myself these mornings, "What will it feel like to pass the GRE with high scores? What will it feel like when I get accepted everywhere and I have to make a choice? What will it feel like to graduate with honors?" And then I close my eyes and experience it.
I learned this trick from my best friend Cosme. He accomplishes so much. Well, years ago he told me his secret. He says he imagines himself doing it. He lives it, sleeps it. Walks himself completely through the experience--sees the sights, smells the smells, hears the sounds, feels the feelings--all of that. And when it happens, you know what he told me--he's already lived it and is busy living the next experience. Sounds familiar, like the law of attraction, the Secret? Well, he told me this years before all that came out, he's extremely dyslexic and does not read--at all. He doesn't know anything about "The Secret" outside of what he's done his entire life. He is an artist by the way, and taught me almost everything I know. He has also created the entire arts culture, which is city-wide, in our city.
I'm getting verbose here, but these are things I need to speak out into the world, if nothing else but to remind me when the roller coaster gets scary.
We can never know what we are truly capable of unless we try to accomplish it. It is as plain and simple as that. Nike says "Just do it," Cosme told me "Jump off the bridge," I'm telling you, "Set your standards high and cultivate your own life."
It is all different ways to saying--Own your life.
In the 12 days since I've stepped out of my comfort zone I have learned so much. I have opened myself up to new possibilities.
Did you know you could CLEP out of GE classes for $80 a test? Neither did I; I'll be taking College Algebra, American Government, Sociology, and Western Civilization I.
Guess who's going to be an art show, April? Me.
Did you know you can pass the GRE by studying and learning the tricks? I didn't either.
Did you know there are resources online that can teach you Algebra, I mean really teach you, for free? I know, coolio.
Guess who's entering her university's excellence in writing contest? That would be me.
Let's Own this life of ours, and do the damn thing!