Graduate school: the crossroads

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I just finished submitting my petition to graduate. If all goes well with my final class (!!) this semester, I will be graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature. I can barely type those words without being overwhelmed by emotion. I can’t believe I’ve finally gotten here. This is the direct result of four years of personal sacrifice, neglected friendships, adventures postponed, Sunday afternoons hunched over my laptop writing literary analysis papers. My education has always come first, and it shows in my GPA, in the feedback I’ve gotten from my professors. It’s hard for me to remain modest when I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. But what comes next?

I began pursuit of my Bachelor’s Degree with the full intention that I wanted to teach English. By and large, I never questioned that. Now that the applications for grad school are casting their long shadow over my days, I’m (true to form!) questioning that goal. There’s no money in teaching. Finding a job is really hard, and the job market is fiercely competitive (considering there is no money in teaching, I still find that odd). And of course: teaching is a ton of work. If I choose to teach at a public high school, I can expect a thankless flock of apathetic students, to which my boyfriend can attest. I’ve toyed with careers as an editor, or perhaps a librarian, which would require alternate Master’s programs. Getting my Master’s is not optional for me; it has been my intention from day one, to keep the wheels of education turning. I love education; I’ve thrived on it for years. More than anything, my love of literature and writing has propelled me forward. So it makes sense that I share that passion with others, to the best of my ability.

So now the question remains: Where do I apply to grad school? It needs to be online, because (sadly) I have to keep working full-time, as I have for my entire undergrad program. Do I pursue a Master’s of Education, or a Master’s of English, perhaps Creative Writing? I know to get certified to teach in New Hampshire I’ll need to pursue alternative certification routes. I can’t afford to student teach and not make money. All of the options out there are so daunting. In spite of my success in my undergraduate program, I can’t help but question my own intelligence and abilities: what if all those grades were just a fluke, dumb luck? (I don’t think so, but maybe.) Can I even do it? Am I tall enough to be a teacher? And scariest of all: what if I hate it? I couldn’t hate it more than what I do now, to be sure…but how do I know what the “right” program is for me? I feel like these are questions most people answered in their early 20s, but I am a late bloomer when it comes to higher education. I’ve learned that as long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to try something new.

If you are in the teaching profession, I would really love your input, so please comment. I’ll be sure to check out your blog, too.

 

I’m sorry/I can’t/don’t hate me

In “The Post-It Always Sticks Twice,” Carrie gets dumped by her boyfriend, fellow writer Jack Berger, via Post-It note. “I’m sorry/I can’t/don’t hate me” was scrawled on said Post-It. Leading up to the breakup, we see Berger’s recurrent insecurities about Carrie’s even more successful career, and how it makes him feel inadequate. Carrie received a huge check from her publisher; Berger’s second book option (at the same publisher) gets dropped. He feels like a “big fat failure” and is finding it increasingly difficult to be supportive in Carrie’s shadow, even though he cognitively knows and admits that she is “magnificent” and has earned her success.

True to form, I can relate almost any life situation to Sex and the City, and this is where I am right now. Only instead of being Carrie, I’m Berger. I just found out that my boyfriend (whom I love, adore and now live with) got his first real English teaching job, at the same school where he is currently the writing lab instructor. This will mean a big pay increase of course, and it’s what he’s always wanted to do, what he went to school for. A good girlfriend would be happy for her man when he gets the job he wants. Right? Somehow I can’t be. And it makes me sound like a bad person, but I’m trying to work out the reasons why I’m not happy, and can’t seem to shake the feelings that I have.

I’m jealous and resentful. I think that sums it up the best. I had toyed with the idea of being an English teacher on and off in my younger years. Instead of going to college out of high school, I dropped out, moved in with my boyfriend and got married at 19 (divorced at 20). During the last 7 years, I’ve worked my butt off to keep a roof over my head. I finally started school about three months ago. I’ve essentially ruled out becoming a teacher, mainly because I can’t take the required day program while working full time. Then again, I’m not even sure what I would be good at. Writing freelance? Editing? Who knows. I’m feeling all kinds of insecure and inadequate, even though I have a 4.0 and glowing feedback from the one English course I’ve taken thus far. I’ve only just begun. The job market is bleak. I know I should think positively and be happy I’m working towards my goals now, but I don’t feel that way. At all.

In the past few weeks as I’ve known bf’s interview was impending, I provided false words of encouragement. I thought if I resented him and hoped he didn’t get the job, I should (wisely, no?) keep my mouth shut and be supportive. I secretly hoped he didn’t get chosen. Not necessarily because I don’t want him to be happy, because I do, but simply because my own inadequacies are THAT crippling. I know how juvenile and hateful that sounds, believe me. I have my own issues (borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety) and it’s really hard to balance them with a healthy relationship. Believe it or not, we do have a good relationship. This issue of resentment regarding career has come up before. The only thing I’ve done is keep plugging away at school and trying to put on a happy face when it comes to his successes. But it’s not working.

Today I confessed my resentment, probably shouldn’t have. And things have gone downhill from there. I said some terrible things which I hate to say, I actually meant. I’m talking to my good friends, and I know what I “should” do (apologize and work things out) but it isn’t that easy or that simple. My friends do understand why I feel the way I do, and so does he. Sometimes it helps to have a little understanding…but it doesn’t change how I feel.

Have you ever been envious or resentful of a partner’s success? How did you (or do you) cope with those feelings?