Almost a master

Three years ago I was going through a quarter-life crisis. I found myself at a crossroads, as many recent undergrads do. I was a college graduate with a pointless degree. I spent my days sitting behind a desk, typing aimlessly away at a computer, feeling like I was wasting my youth doing something that made me miserable. Needless to say, I was not so happy with the direction my life was headed. I vividly remember sitting in my cubicle in December of 2007, deciding that I had had enough. I had enough of the 9-5 office grind. I was fed up with business casual attire. I was annoyed with the Spirit Committee shoving fliers in my face to go see The Lion King. I needed real human interaction, and got very little of it on a daily basis. I thrive on communication and challenges. On that frigid December day, I made a decision that would change my life as I knew it.

I decided that I needed to go back to school.

The next few months were a blur of serious soul searching, filling out applications and studying for the GREs. By March I had been accepted into the program I wanted, and by May I found out that I would be a graduate assistant for my first year of school. I’d get a free ride for one of the three years I’d be in the program. I was elated. This had to be a sign that I was making the right decision. That it would be worth it to throw away the career I was slowly building. I had my doubts, don’t get me wrong. I cried, I debated, I changed my mind a thousand times. But on the thousand and first time I became completely dedicated to this new life I was going to begin.

In the summer, I fell in love.

In the fall, I began my program.

I didn’t feel like I needed to make any new friends – what for? I had plenty already. I was happy enough with the social life I was  leading. I didn’t need to add any new people to the mix. And then I started talking to J. We soon began to spend countless hours together, mostly talking, occasionally studying. She became my study buddy, but so much more. She was my confidant. My partner in crime. We complained to one another. We stressed out together. We laughed together. We procrastinated together. Slowly, I began to speak with the other people in my program, although I wasn’t really sold on all of them. There were a few people that I for sure felt that I would just never be friends with. And I was cool with that.

During the second semester of my first year, my heart broke.

I wasn’t sure if I could go on. I’m not positive if this is the way that everyone copes with heartbreak, but personally, I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to lay in bed, listen to sad songs, cry and eat Phish Food by the gallon. I wasn’t doing any of my work. I was falling behind. Just getting out of bed to go to class was a chore. Studying was brutal. I couldn’t concentrate. I was beginning to feel like I wouldn’t be able to continue to program.

And then, one day, I snapped out of it. While we were in the library, J looked at me. She snapped her fingers in front of my face as I moped into my notebook. “Amanda! You’re doing this for you. You have an amazing opportunity here. You can’t throw it all away because some guy hurt your feelings. You’re going to be brilliant at this, but you have to get back on track. In two years, I want to graduate with you standing next to me.”

So, I worked. I studied. I read. I became a clinician. A damn good one, if I do say so myself. I went out with friends on the weekends, but during the week I was, first and foremost, a student. I spent countless late nights at school, paper writing with my classmates, who soon became some of my best friends. I grew amazingly fond of those same people that I was so unsure about in the beginning. They all became my rocks. I remembered why I went back for my graduate degree in the first place. I was proud of what I was accomplishing. For once, I was absolutely certain that I was on the right path.

Over my graduate career, I began to realize that my classmates are some of the most amazing people in the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to go through the ups and downs of school with. I’ve spent the past two and a half years with these brilliant, entertaining, wonderful individuals who have taught me more than I could have learned from any textbook. I am so so so blessed to have met each and every one of them.

So, why am I talking about this right now?

Well, today we took our last final exam. Ever.

As we finished, we waited in the lounge for one another. One by one we congregated, chatted about the test, and decided to make plans to meet up sometime soon. We all had places to be, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave the building.

As we finally made our way down the steps and out into the bitter cold, I looked back. We would all be there again for various reasons. Presentations we would have to give, seminars we would have to attend. But not in this same way. We would never take another class together. We would never have to study our brains out til 4 in the morning in that building together. We would never again go senile in the computer lab, laughing at absolutely nothing.

We have all grown so much in the two and a half years since we met each other. Some of us got married, some of us had our first serious relationships, a few of us had our hearts broken. Along the way we lost a few to various life circumstances. Despite all the insanity, I’m fairly sure that those of us who got through the experience would never trade it for anything else in the world.

It scares me to think of what the future might hold. But it also makes me more excited than words can express. We’ll be scattered throughout the state, working in different areas, but we’ll always be there for each other. I know that no matter where we are, I can call each and every one of the 10 people I’ve just spent the majority of my mid-twenties with, and they would be there for me in a heartbeat.

So, am I happy with my decision to leave my comfortable workplace and embark on this crazy, whirlwind of a journey called grad school?

Is the Pope Catholic?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maura
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 17:22:05

    Congrats! My favorite post of yours to date.


    • Wild Oats
      Dec 18, 2010 @ 10:13:15

      Thank you!! I had such a tough time putting this experience into words. Sometimes (who am I kidding, lots of times!) I wish I could movie montage my life.


  2. amber
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 00:14:30

    I’m happy for you! 🙂 I’ve been wanting to go back to school, and I’m still mustering the courage – and searching for an area of study that won’t leave me with a 4yr degree and a minimum wage job and debt up to my eyeballs.


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