Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wherein, I worry...

Okay, so the process of thought that follows is probably going to sound ridiculous, and ranty,  and a bit paranoid, but I'm going to say it anyway.

I'm set to graduate with my BA in English in December (assuming I pass everything & the Writing Proficiency Exam, otherwise, it'll be May 2010).  I've been going to college on and off since I was 18 years old.  For quick reference, that's 13 years.  More off than on, really, but still, it's been a long time.  For that time, I have nothing but the pending BA to show, unless you count the writing certificate I finished with Long Ridge Writer's Group -- No?  Didn't think so.  Admitting that it's taken me 13 years to finish a 4 year degree is not my proudest moment and, in some ways, I feel like the time it's taken to reach this milestone has somehow made it less meaningful.  I should feel the opposite, shouldn't I?  I mean, college graduation is nothing to balk at, it's a huge achievement.  Some days are better than others and I feel like finishing this degree justifies all the time I spent working toward it, and I'm proud of myself for getting it done.  Frankly, where this degree is concerned, I'm a basket case of conflicting emotions.  What else is new, I suppose (notice this is not a question).

I remember graduating High School, in the stone age (ha!), thinking I had never been more pleased to be done with anything.  I hated high school in a way I cannot adequately express.  It was an awkward, difficult time in my life that, save for the ability to live at home and be taken care of, I would never wish to relive.  I truly hated compulsory education.  Hated it and thinking back, I think part of that was that high school teachers often don't give a damn about their students.  They're not there to make your life better, or to enrich your educational experience.  They're there to make sure you can read and do basic arithmetic, they're there to make sure you can pass the SAT or ACT, or whatever.  They're not there because they care about education, at least not in my experience.  This may be an unfair stereotype, but it's my experience.  I suppose it's possible that droves of uncaring students could suck the desire out of anyone, now that I think back on it, and I was certainly one of those uncaring students, so maybe I was more a part of the problem than it's solution, whatever that might be.  Either way, I wanted out of high school.   Then, when I got out, all I wanted was to go back.  I remember crying, thinking that I missed high school, because I didn't want to be a grown-up yet, and frankly, that's what happens when you're granted the diploma.  The real world presents itself and you can either grab it by the horns, or you can run away.  I did a little of both, in the absolute wrong ways, but I did what was right for me at the time.

Now, I'm about to graduate college, after years of effort in the endeavor, and rather than wanting out, all I want is to hide.  I'm having the opposite reaction to high school graduation.  I'm having an absolutely terrible semester, which I've been attributing to burn-out, but what if that's not it?  What if my bad semester is the result of self-sabotage?  What if I'm unintentionally, intentionally screwing it up?  Yeah, these things are starting to occur to me and frankly, they're not making me very happy.  I do want to graduate, my rational mind wants it desperately, but maybe my subconscious doesn't want that.  Maybe, I don't want to grow-up.  I don't know, but I'm sure that when this semester's over, I'll have passed everything, if not with flying colors, and will be conferred the Bachelor of Arts in English from Tarleton State University.  Then, I'll buy myself one of those huge wooden frames, budget withstanding, in which to place my prize possession, and I'll move on.

But moving on is the place I'm having the most issue right now.  So here it is, what I set out to say, before I got off on the tangents that brought me here.  I'm worried that having a master's degree is going to decrease my ability to get a job.  How silly is that?  Well, however silly, it's still a serious fear for me right now.  Yes, it's pessimistic, and probably untrue, but it's a worry.  I've been looking around at, seeing what there is for someone with education in English, and honestly, I'm not terribly happy with what I'm seeing.  When you have no degree, it's hard to get a job because you're uneducated, when you have a bachelor's degree it's hard to get a job that pays what your education is worth, when you have a master's degree it's impossible to take jobs that're below your educational worth without looking like a failure.  Pessimistic and harsh, but I'm really quite fearful that it might be the truth.

Yet, there's that spark of hope in me that says that with a master's degree, I'll be able to get a good job, but that spark is crushed to death beneath the weight of the fact that I have zero work experience in the last 10 years -- see why I'm such a pessimist?!  That's right, none, zip, zilch, nada, zero.  I've not worked because I haven't needed to, but how does that look?  Terrible, to be quite frank.  Terrible and lazy.  Of course, when I graduate with my Master's degree, assuming I get a position as a  graduate assistant, I'll have 1 1/2 - 2 years experience.  I'll also be 33 years old.  I suppose my biggest problem is the fear that though I'm trying to do something to turn my life around, it's too little, too late.

It's really not possible to be too little, too late, because it's all I have left. I can't rewind, I can't finish earlier, I can't be younger than I am and I'm not getting any younger from here out.  All I can do is try to get in gear in a timely manner and reach the goals I have for right now.   The graduate school thing is my biggest, most present concern at this point.  It costs a lot to go to graduate school, I'm concerned the outcome won't be worth the cost.

Maybe I worry too much, but worrying is what I do best.  No matter how often I tell my brain to shut-up and stop worrying, I can't seem to make it listen.  I can't really talk about it with Matt because he tells me I worry too much or that I just look for things to worry about.  The sad part is, I think he's right, which makes it hard to talk about it anywhere, really.  So, I'm bringing it here, to my space, because it has to get out of my brain.  Time to buckle down and make sure that my subconscious mind doesn't win the battle, even if it wins the war.