Saying No to Grad School

For the past few weeks, I’ve met with several of my amazing professors at Glendale Community College to discuss the prospect of me pursuing a Master’s degree at Arizona State. Although they’ve all been very helpful, they’ve been holding out on me; yesterday, I got the real deal, and I left campus, halfway between total panic, disillusionment, and tears.

The fact is I’ve been looking for some challenge in my life. I love writing novels and short stories; you know that. However, I usually feel as though I’m not doing “enough.” I’m not working toward the greater good.

I like to think that getting one of my novels published would change this feeling. For instance, one of my dear, dear friends just finished reading my recently completed novel rough draft, Damned if They Don’t. This dear friend is agnostic, and my novel made her say, “Maybe I could come to church with you some time just so I can understand what this God stuff is all about.” If that’s not working toward the greater good, I don’t know what is.

Despite this amazing conversation, I wanted more. I saw myself as a teacher someday, which is why I spoke to my professors about earning a Master’s degree. Until yesterday, I saw myself teaching at the college level. I saw myself inspiring youth to read, write, and use their words to exorcise emotional demons. All of this and more—until yesterday.

30599-Open_DoorIt’s no one’s fault, and I’m thankful the professors I met with yesterday said the precise things I needed to hear. For instance, “Teachers rarely have time to write.” Or, “I’ve given up on writing a novel.” Or finally, worst of all: “Don’t try to be a good teacher and a good writer.”

Certainly, I felt distraught yesterday. I feel distraught today, because I thought for sure I would be applying to ASU for my Master’s next year. I thought I would be a TA and then, a teacher. Now, I realize these were silly aspirations. Not silly because they were unrealistic; silly because I should have known—being a Master’s student, being a teacher, would ruin me as a writer.

It’s sad, tragic, to hear that teachers—highly talented professors—no longer write. It’s sad they no longer publish, because there just isn’t enough time to take care of personal projects when they have over a hundred students to deal with. However, my professors spoke the truth yesterday, no question. They were brutally honest with me. One teacher who I highly respect even said, “I worry about people like you becoming teachers. I worry you’ll stop writing, and writing is what you’re made to do.”

I’m saying no to graduate school. I’m saying no to becoming a college professor. I’m lost, for now, seeking a sign. However, the same friend who now wants to go to church with me said something interesting at our last happy hour. When I explained my frustrations over my current career situation, she said, “You’re in a waiting room, and a door will open soon.” Here’s hoping I step through.

10 thoughts on “Saying No to Grad School

  1. One of the doors opening is via the GAT book clubs and this new project you are tackling. If that doesn’t give you a wealth of material, I can’t imagine what will. You will have characters galore, environmental riches, and a real chance to make a difference. Your friend is right and I know that very well.

  2. I heard a new expression the other day. In response to prayers, God may say ‘yes’, ‘no,’ OR ‘I have something better in mind.’ Note that the last option still puts the path in His hands.
    And another saying that I love is ‘Every rejection is a re-direction.”
    You will find your path. It actually sounds like you are on it right now.

    • Another favorite: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Re-direction is good. The path is exciting. Now, here’s hoping and praying for patience 🙂

  3. I know God will continue to guide you, Doll, and you are bringing joy and awareness to others every time you write a story or blog or article. We are looking forward to seeing God’s work in you and Jake’s lives. Love, Mom

  4. You will be okay. Maybe there’s an option you haven’t thought of before just waiting for you. Maybe you’ll decide to focus on writing and do a writer’s workshop program instead of going to grad school. Maybe you’ll focus on writing and decide grad school is what you really want, but maybe not right now?

    My dearest friend is currently in a master’s program and she is writing every single week and loving it! She is also teaching part time at two different schools. If you would like to chat with her about her experience, I would be thrilled to put the two of you in touch. Maybe a personal conversation with someone doing what you thought you might would help put your decision in perspective. She is crazy busy, but happy every moment because she found her proper path in life.

    Perhaps the people you spoke with aren’t the proper people to clue you in to what the grad program at your preferred school is like. Perhaps you would feel better making contact with the grad program faculty at your potential future school and talking to them. They might have something just as realistic but completely different to tell you.

    If you want to teach, teach. If you want to write, write. If you want to do both, do both. Nothing will stop you from doing what you believe in. Please let me know if you want to talk about this further! I’ve been where you are, and, I promise, you will be okay. Even better, you will be happy.

    • Thank you so much for your amazing input, Alta. I will keep your friend in mind. I will probably want to talk to her, just not at this moment. At this moment, I’m taking some time to just let my mind settle. I will figure things out; I usually do 🙂 Just takes time. For now, I will write. I will write, because I love to write and I was made to write. All the rest will fall into place … Thanks again!!!

  5. It’s not no. It’s just no for right now or maybe it’s no, not all at once. There’s nothing to prevent you from taking a class and meeting other writers and learning and growing and maybe counting it towards a master’s one day. Pray about it. You will figure it out. I’m at a very similar crossroads on the Phd track.

    • Praying is just about all I can do right now 🙂 In the waiting room … but God has a plan. He always does.

  6. I hope you also realize that your story, and I mean the story of your life, isn’t over until it’s over (and even then…)- so what decision you make now should not feel completely and utterly final.

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