Want What You Got

I’m going through a lot of uncertainty lately. I’m taking a leap of faith by going to grad school, borrowing all this money in the hopes that it will pay off. I have no way of knowing this won’t be like my previous grad school experience, after which I realized that it would be close to impossible to get a job, and the jobs I would get would be so low-paying it wasn’t worth it. Statistics show that nutrition is not the same as creative writing, that there’s a lot of opportunity and it pays well. But then my fear kicks in that it will be like my experience in marketing: I won’t be good at it or I won’t like it, or it will be too competitive to get a good job. Then I’ll be saddled with a huge amount of student loan debt that I can’t repay, with barely any retirement funds, so that I’ll be working a job I hate or am not good at until I’m 80 or dead.

I didn’t do a lot of research before getting a master’s in creative writing. I trusted my friend, a student at the university I decided to attend, that I could get a job teaching English at the college level with an MFA, which is true. One can start out as an adjunct professor position teaching English, but the job market is surprisingly competitive. I calculated that I’d make about $25,000 a year, which is the same as what I’ve been making as a grocery store worker. And most likely I’d be working more than 40 hours a week.

There’s nothing wrong with making $25,000 a year. The problem is that in my area it does not allow me to buy my own house and pay my bills. It may be fine in a rural area, but there aren’t many jobs in rural areas. Staying here means I have to live with other people, which I’ve been given the opportunity to do, and I only have to share a bathroom with one other person. This is temporary. I’ve calculated that it will take about four years for me to get through grad school, which really is not that long in the grand scheme of things. It’s like being an undergrad.
Whenever I think about gratitude this line from a Sheryl Crow song pops into my head: “It’s not about having what you want, it’s about wanting what you’ve got.” It’s a common phrase that took me years to really get. I couldn’t understand how that helped me to get what I wanted. This is the life I wanted. This is the life I chose. This is the life I’m living. Today, now. Not many people get this opportunity. Most people just stay where they are, and maybe that works for them which is a good thing for them. But I am trying something new, and this is it. This is the beginning of my journey.

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