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.
It’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.