On the Horizon

It’s a balmy weekend in April, and I am winding down my next-to-last semester at USC Upstate. Over the last few weeks, my horizon became dotted with new opportunities, and reflections on my good fortune began to pulse in my mind.

I am going to be published.

I am doing an internship.

I am going to work directly with a literary journal.

I am going to grad school.

I am going to grad school.

am going to grad school.

I have planned my pursuit of a Ph.D. since I was in community college. I want the knowledge, the expertise, and the title. For a long time, however, it all seemed like a pipe dream. Having dealt with health issues, failed serious—and seriously failed—relationships, and strained finances, I was almost prepared to give up when I saw the admissions requirements for my top MA program choices: the application fees, the GRE subject test, the reading lists, and, most threatening of all, the fierce competition to be one of only ten or fifteen accepted applicants.

Still, turning back was never an option; I have accumulated too much debt to stop and try to build a life without an advanced degree. As I dutifully researched programs, schools, tests, and texts, the stress of my must-do list piled up. It took lengthy, encouraging talks with family, friends, and faculty to make me realize that I can become an asset to any institution before I graduate in December.

Doors began to open at an alarming rate.

Would you like this published?

Would you be interested in this internship?

Would you consider being a research assistant on this project?

Windows did the same.

You should apply to [previously unconsidered college].

Have you thought about focusing on [previously unconsidered topic] instead of [generic topic]?

You should participate in next year’s Research Symposium.

Suddenly, being a stand-out applicant no longer seemed like an impossibility, and self-doubt turned into self-assurance. I could do this. I can do this. I will do this.

 “It is a nice thing to be working and believing in my work again. I hope I can keep the drive. I only feel whole and well when it is this way.” John Steinbeck,1938