Suddenly everything is changing.
I’m not exaggerating there. My life is about to flip-turn and shoot off the wall in a brand new direction. After five years staying with my parents, I finally just moved in with a roommate. In early September I’ll begin working on a Ph.D., suddenly thrust from unemployment (I was laid off in March) to full-time graduate student mode.
I’m excited, of course, but to be honest, I couldn’t be more scared.
This all happened pretty quickly. When I went back to school for my Master’s a few years ago, I applied in December, was notified of my acceptance in March, and had until August to prepare. Granted, I didn’t move at the time, but I had to put notice at my job and get ready in other ways. This time, the entire process has been fast-tracked: I went through the entire application process in a few weeks, starting in early June, and have had to scramble to get financial aid, find an apartment and move, take care of all the school paperwork, and all that.
Maybe that’s better for me. As an over-thinker, I haven’t had a chance to second-guess my decision or fret and stew too much. But at the same time, since I’m so used to analyzing and rethinking and questioning every move I make, the lack of time for reflection is terrifying.
One thing that has plagued me is if I’m truly going to be able to pull off the coursework. My previous graduate school experience was in journalism, and even though it was busy and rigorous, it wasn’t particularly academic. There was more running around the city, reporting, making phone calls, writing and producing, and less reading, research and theory. I’m beyond worried that my attention span (or lack thereof) is going to be my downfall.
While I was in j-school, I was always full of self-doubt. I worried constantly that I wasn’t passionate enough, or street-savvy enough, or bold enough, or working hard enough. It got to the point that I was trying to take an afternoon off, and while I was out shopping with my mother I had a full-on panic attack, complete with snot-filled crying, right in the middle of the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue. I really, really don’t want that to happen again.
I’ve been trying to take control in what little ways I can. I’m making sure my new room is really organized, so my dry erase calendar ready to go with color-coded markers and all my papers have a place to be filed. I’ve been updating my wardrobe so I look more like a professional adult and less like an overgrown 16-year-old punk brat with questionable taste (or at least I’ll save that look for weekends).
This flurry of adjustment is just adulthood finally catching up with me. I’m 28, so I’ve been running from it long enough. It was bound to happen eventually. I’m sure the stress and the self-doubt will be there, as will roommate disagreements, terrible commutes and overwhelming workloads. So here’s hoping I figure out a way to handle it all without too much liver damage.