I know it’s only been a week and a half, and I’m sure I’ll look back and want to retract this statement for its naivety ((especially in the future in those early mornings of comprehensive exam studying and dissertation writing)), but I finally feel like I’ve found my intellectual home. I’ve finally put my feet on a path that leads me where I want to go.
On the eve of my undergraduate graduation, I felt a cold panic—”what if I never find something I love as much as being a college student?” “what if I never find a career that fulfills me? What if I am never this happy again?”… And my nightmares were realized once I moved to Nashville and I muddled my way through a gripping depression and responsibilities with Teach for America and life outside of academia and outside of my comfort-zone. Even once I made it to Vanderbilt, I still felt consistently dissatisfied with my path; it was a path I couldn’t see myself on even a few years down the line.
It took a lot of soul searching and sleepless nights. It took panicked phone calls to advisors and short-notice office hours to mull things over. It took sudden sharp left turns, u-turns and re-routing. It took a hell of a lot of discomfort and dissatisfaction and re-assessing. I had to be critical. I didn’t let myself get comfortable in what was easy. I didn’t let myself become a mechanical copy of what was expected of me. I couldn’t let my biggest fear from the end of undergrad turn into my forever reality.
It was hard.
It was SO hard
This pursuit of my calling has been one of the scariest aspects of my adult life.
But last night, I whispered “I’m home” on my walk through campus.
Starting on August 22, I’ve now embarked on a new adventure to become an academic in the field of communication. And I pray and hope that I will be allowed to pursue this forever, because if I am, then I’ve become the luckiest girl in the world.
I get to study the historic discipline of rhetoric. This semester alone I’m researching feminist standpoint theory, analyzing Obama’s performance of gender in his Sandy Hook speech, workshopping a paper on John Adam’s inaugural address and teaching 38 amazing undergraduate students. My job right now is to read and write and research and teach and be a professional nerd. For about 65 hours a week, my responsibility is to take in new information and then to see what I personally can contribute to the realm of knowledge in return. How amazing is that?!
There are obvious glaring drawbacks to this life I’ve chosen—I’ve already been busy as hell; I’ve already cried and sought guidance from those around me—but through those glares, I still have a hopeful and realistic idea of what’s to come. And that future seems so bright.
So bright, I might just argue that it’s on fire.
Thanks, UMD Department of Communication, for setting me aflame. I’m looking forward to the hard-work and exploration for years to come.