Why I Haven’t Applied to Grad School… Yet

Well, my time here in Florida is coming to an end, and as excited as I am to head out on my first of many wintertime adventures, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by my long list of to-dos that never quite got done. At the top of that list: my grad school applications.

After lots of thought and even more procrastination, I’ve come to a temporary decision: contrary to my original plan, I’m not applying to grad school this winter.

Being home for a few weeks has allowed me to contemplate the past few years, the direction my life is going, what I really want and what makes me happy. And I am so happy. It’s not that I think grad school would make me unhappy. I’ve just got it really good right now. I’m having so much fun.

I’ll have fun in grad school too, and hopefully in every other stage of my life. But what I’m doing now – working seasonally in a job I love, taking months off at a time to travel, devoting lots and lots of time to myself – will not be sustainable once I have responsibilities. And grad school is a big responsibility. The financial responsibility alone will be enough to put a kabosh on this whole only-work-six-months-a-year thing. I’ll have to give up this fantastic lifestyle I’ve stumbled into. In short, I’d have to grow up.

To be clear, there are a lot of things I look forward to about growing up. I can’t tell you how often I visit the homes of friends and family and become overwhelmed with an urge to nest, to accumulate, to decorate, to have things. I look forward to career. I look forward to family. I look forward to becoming a part of a community. To really get to know just one place. Those are all adventures too.

I’m just feeling that I’m not quite done with this particular adventure. It’s been almost 2 1/2 years since I’ve started this initially wayward journey and I’m just starting to get comfortable with it. I’m just now getting my toes wet. I’m finally ready to dive in. I have to give myself that chance.

Why not just apply and defer any acceptances? I thought about this possibility, a lot. And here’s the somewhat cowardly answer: I’m afraid. I don’t want to put any limits on myself. And although few people would refer to grad school as a limit, I guess I don’t trust myself to not go. What if I get in? Even if I do defer an acceptance, it still puts a mark on the calendar, a date when this incredible journey of mine must come to an end. And that feels limiting. This little stretch I’m in right now is likely going to be the last time in a long time that I am able to be totally and completely free. As much as I don’t want to close any of the doors that attending grad school might afford me, I also want to keep every possible opportunity open. I want to give myself the option of doing something totally and completely different. After all, my life has already taken at least one pretty major right turn, who says that won’t happen again?

So here’s my conclusion: I’ll still go to grad school… most likely. I’ll keep it in my long-term plans. But I’m not ready for it. Maybe I could be ready for it. But right now, I’m not. So I’ll wait. I’ll wait until I feel the same pull towards grad school that I do at this moment towards traveling, towards wearing that silly flat hat. This is what feels right.

For now, it’s time to put away the books and start packing. And that’s just how I like it.

Not quite ready to say goodbye to this...
Not quite ready to say goodbye…

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