Risk

I am not a risk-taker.

Perhaps that’s an odd thing to say given I moved across the country to pursue my education. I moved again to be with my girlfriend, 500 miles from my friends and found family. I have moved a third time to be at a graduate program that challenges me.

All of my risks are calculated to death. Would it make sense financially? Are my opportunities better? Would I be happier? How will this help me in the future? Even after all of this, I still feel regret and ask myself, was it worth it?

Most the time the answer to those questions are all positive. Sometimes it still doesn’t feel that way. I’ll look back at some point and be able to joyfully say yes it was. At the moment though, that’s not the case.

I love my girlfriend, and I can’t wait to marry her someday when I’m no longer in school. We have serious conversations a lot, about our life together, about our pasts and future. We’ll shy away from these conversations at first, all couples do. But at some point, she breaks the ice of the subject and we lay out our feelings about that topic.

She pointed out that I am not a risk-taker. And I know I am not. I get wrapped up in my head, I think more than I actually do. So I get stuck.

This all stems from my risk calculation, particularly when it comes to finances.

I’ve only had one job that made me feel financially stable. I haven’t been able to get back to that point since I left for undergrad. I’ve moved from one low-paying job after another, never feeling enough financial stability to feel like I could take risks. A huge part of this has to do with being independent.

I have always prided myself in being financially independent even if that means forgoing an external social life. I found it easier to give up experiences so I could have the extra money in my savings.  2019 has been the first year that I am not making money. This will be the first time since my first job at 16 that I have spent at least half the year unemployed – if not the full year.

Being unemployed blows. I am lucky I have my girlfriend who understands that finding a good job that also wants me takes time. She knows that spending so much time in our house, in a new city, was hard on me. I spent a few months of the summer working for a car auction company. I made more working retail than I did at this job, so much so I was tempted to go back to retail and deal with customers again.

With the school year started, I spend my days in my apartment doing homework, writing, watching YouTube, and playing video games. Three evenings a week I’m in class.

That is my schedule.

She said I should take risks. I am in the perfect position to do this because if things don’t work out, I have her and my parents to fall back on. And that completely shatters my independence.

I have never liked the idea of relying on other people. More often than not, I am disappointed by them. Perhaps my expectations are too high, or maybe I’m bad at choosing reliable people. But I know that my girlfriend and my parents are reliable. It comes down to being comfortable with asking for help, and feeling like I can take risks.

I want to.

But I am so afraid.

That is harder to get over than to admit. And it’s something that I’m not sure what to do about.

So it goes.

The transcript of this video is below.

As a freshman, my friend Jess told me that the next four years would fly by. Time is a goon.

It’s the weekend before finals, and as I and my peers write term papers and rehearse presentations, I’m faced with bidding farewell to a place I’m privileged to call home. This bittersweet experience makes my throat get tight and my eyes well.

For the first time in four years, I’m going to pack up my room and not move across campus for the summer. I won’t walk into the Office of Residence Life for work and spend my evenings hanging out with friends on the RA staff.

College is this strange time in your life where you are figuring out who you are. A process that doesn’t stop after you put on the cap and gown.

In two weeks I’m going to cross a stage and be given a diploma. A piece of paper that represents my academic achievement. What it doesn’t show is the tears, mental breakdowns, coffee cups, laughter, late nights, and friends I gained along the way.

I grew far more at college than I ever would have anticipated. That growth changed me for the better, even though at times it didn’t feel worth it.

Wherever I end up I will have these memories to look back on. They say when one door closes, another opens. But this feels like more than that. This is more than closing a chapter of my life.

So it goes.

About those rejection emails

I am going to make the assumption I am not getting accepted to grad school this year. With four out of five rejections in, I think I can bet on the final rejection coming at some point in the next week or two. Or perhaps I should assume by their silence that it won’t happen this year.

If I were a traditional college student, I think this number of rejections would hurt a lot more. Early-twenties me would have taken the rejection much harder, which would have fueled my imposter syndrome in a way that perhaps would have made me reconsider writing. The self-deprecation of my skills was stronger then.

At twenty-seven I’m taking these rejection emails in stride. I can make some guesses as to why I’m being told no. My research subject was too odd. My research was too specific. My research wasn’t targeting the right school. I can’t art for the one MFA program I applied to. You know what, though? That’s fine.

I keep reminding myself that things happen for a reason.

I’ll sulk into some video games and comic books this weekend, maybe even treat myself to some Mr. Macs or tacos.

And then I’ll dive head first into the job applications. I’ll talk to some professors about their thoughts on my next steps, and see what advice they can give me.

I’ve been rejected from things before, and I’ve learned that I function best by taking my negative energy and putting it towards something new.

We’ll see what I make this time.