It seems like a simple enough equation: Applying to grad school + getting into grad school = overwhelming sense of joy and accomplishment.
But somehow in my whacked out head, this seemingly-simple math problem is quite complex.
The satisfaction that should come hand in hand with an acceptance letter (or an acceptance email, in this case) is not quite so obvious. In this situation, I’m more confused as to how it came to be that California College of the Arts wants me to be a part of their Creative Writing program. I’m sure my confusion has something to do with low self-esteem, the low self-esteem that often goes hand in hand with long-term, full-time parenting. The longer I’ve not been officially employed, coupled with a stack of rejection letters from literary agents, and another recent rejection from the magazine I covet a byline from makes me hesitate before feeling what seems as a given to others – feeling proud that I was accepted because I deserve to be accepted.
Yes, I’m certainly excited about being accepted to grad school (so far I’ve been accepted to 100 percent of the schools I’ve heard from). But mostly it gives me pause. It makes me feel that there must be something wrong with CCA if they want me. It reminds me of that famous Groucho Marx quote: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”
I’m sure I’ll get over this initial sense of confusion and then the hard part will begin. Am I ready to make this commitment to school? Am I ready to be a full-time student again? Am I smart enough? I’ve always tried to live by the idea that time is going to pass me by no matter what I’m doing, so I might as well be doing something worth while. Getting my MFA is worth while. And it will be hard. And there will be times when I wonder if I made the right choice. But it will give me a sense of direction. A sense of purpose. Something a wee bit selfish after years of serving the needs of the wee folk in my life. And that is probably a good thing.
So maybe it’s not the math equation that is hard. Maybe what is hard is the sense of feeling like I’m entitled to do something just for me just because I’m worth it. Because I am. It's just hard to remember that sometimes.