In October 2013, I suffered an existential crisis of sorts. Not only had I just returned from my mission and was trying to find my place back at BYU and make the transition from Cectpa Armknecht to Megan Beth, but I realized that my career goals that I had made before my mission were not appealing to me anymore.
Before the mission, I wanted to be an editor and freelance writer--now, don't get me wrong, I still love writing and I still harbor a desire to write a book--many books, actually. But I realized that I did not love editing like I thought I would. The editing class I was taking bored me and I did not care about details that much in order to be an effective editor. Soooo, that left me without a day job.
I also realized that I loved my history classes a lot more than my English classes, but it was too late to change my major . . . plus, I didn't want to be at school for another two years to finish my bachelor's. Soooo, that left me feeling unhappy in many of my major classes. And again, don't get me wrong. I really am grateful for my education--and I still don't know if I would go back and change my major to history if I could do it all over again--being an English major has opened so many doors for me, helped me make some lifelong friends, and has taught me a lot about the purpose and ambiguities of life. Still, it made me wistful for all of those history classes I could have taken and for missed opportunities and connections.
I was trying to find my place in the world again--really, I was trying to forge my own place in the world. I wanted some control over my future, but what was I going to do if I couldn't figure it out? What if nothing was appealing to me? What if I graduated from BYU with no job, no prospects, and no future? It was fatalistic thinking, but I spent many nights just trying to figure out what I truly wanted in my life--what would make me happy? What would make me a productive member of not only society, but for my family and for the Church? What was my path? I felt that I had something to give--something great to give--but I didn't know how to focus my efforts.
It wasn't until a professor approached me after class one day and asked me if I had ever considered getting a PhD and becoming a professor. (Now I realize that this isn't very common--most professors, especially history professors, seem to have some kind of secret pact to dissuade as many students as possible from getting PhDs . . . not because they don't think they'd be able to get PhDs in History, but simply because it's really hard to get tenured teaching positions.)
But my professor asked me if I had ever considered becoming a professor. "I think you'd be really good at it," he said.
His suggestion hit me. It was like the room filled with light and everything came into focus.
Yes. Yes, that's exactly what I want to do.
As I made that decision to work towards a PhD, the universe began to conspire in my favor. Doors started opening in ways I never thought possible--internships at archives, research assistantships, publications and presentations, incredible mentors--all of these people and opportunities preparing me for grad school.
Working for the dream of grad school sometimes feels like I'm chasing shadows--false promises and a deluded hope. Believe me. There have been more than a few times where I've considered throwing it all away and becoming a hand model instead. Studying for the GRE was one of those times. Doing grad school application after grad school application was another one of those times. The history department's "Grad School Prep Night" was another one of those times when I wondered why I don't just blow all my savings, move to Lichtenstein, work in a postage stamp shop, and write about my experiences.
But I'm incredibly stubborn. And, there have been people in my life who have kept encouraging me. Who believe in me. And I'm so grateful to them.
This week, I've started to hear back from grad schools.
I've only heard back from 2 so far. But I've been accepted into both of them!
Utah State and Georgetown.
I'm in. Whatever else happens, I'm IN!!!!! I have a place to go in the fall. And, I have options.
(I'm still waiting to hear back from the 5 other schools I applied to--we'll see what happens.)
I've gone back and forth between feelings of joy, humility, terror, and exhilaration.
For how do you begin to write about a dream that is finally getting wings?
Because that's how it feels. This wonderful dream is on its way. I don't have to wait anymore. I know that somewhere wants me, has accepted me, and that next fall I will start a new adventure somewhere.
I may be small, but I've got giant plans to shine as brightly as the sun.
--"astonishing," little women
I'll let you know where I decide to go. But for right now, I'm just holding onto this feeling of success and joy.