The number one thing I learned from graduate school applications

I should not be writing a blog post right now. Like seriously Elizabeth, get it together and do your homework. Oh, you’re not going to listen? Fine. Fail at school and graduate without those very important rope thingies around your neck. It’s you’re own fault, you hobo.

Sometimes I’m very mean to myself.

But really, I’m so swamped right now. However, I know I’m not the only busy one, and if someone will take the time to read it, then I will take the time to write it. It’s been much too long since I’ve blogged anyway.

I’m nearing the very end of the graduate application process. Basically, all I have to do is pay the fees and submit them. But that’s the problem. I just can’t yet. It’s not quite perfect. It doesn’t scream, “I’m brilliant and the next Sylvia Plath (minus the suicide) and you definitely want me to come to your school for free.” Instead, it merely whispers, “I’m ok at some stuff. Hi.”

The other day I was remembering nine-year-old Elizabeth. This young person loved school and reading and was good at math and climbed trees and hardly ever watched television (except for Zoom, which was obviously the best show of the early 2000s). In the fourth grade, she wanted to start a newspaper at her school, so she and her two best friends did that. She went from class to class and asked questions like “what’s your favorite thing to do at recess?” and “what is your favorite food to eat at lunch?” She never for a second had a doubt that she could be a great journalist. She never thought that she wasn’t a good writer. She was not afraid of asking questions or talking to people she didn’t know that well.

Oh nine-year-old Elizabeth, how I envy you. You are beyond brave. You are more independent and courageous than my (pseudo) adult self could ever be. Because if I’m being really honest, I am scared of everything. I’m not independent. I’m not brave. I’m not an adventurer. These are the things I realized as I filled out my graduate school applications.

Graduate School Application: fill in all course work taken at the university level

Me: Oh my gosh, I transferred too many times. Why did I get a B in that class? I’m not smart enough. I definitely won’t get in to grad school.

Graduate School Application: fill in employment history

Me: I only have one literary magazine on my resume. Why didn’t I do more internships? I’m only a nanny. I definitely won’t get in to grad school.

Graduate School Application: Organizations you were involved in

Me: I wasn’t really involved in organizations because I was taking 6 classes and working 25 hours a week, but they don’t care about that so I definitely won’t get in to grad school.

Graduate School Application: Letters of recommendation from 2 references.


Graduate School Application: Personal Statement in support of your application

Me: um.

Graduate School Application: Portfolio of your best written work

Me: How about my worst written work, because I am a terrible writer.

and so on…

Of course, I’ve plodded through it all any way. I tell myself that it’s not as bad as all that, and everyone feels this sometimes, which is true. Grad school is meant to be a challenge, and this is only the application. I tell myself that I’m capable of doing all of these things, and it’s true. I am. But it’s really hard for me to believe it.

I’m realizing how fearful of a person I am. I’m so afraid of failure and rejection. Giving up is a temptation, but I won’t do it, because even bigger than my fear of complete and total failure, is my fear of missing out on something amazing because I gave up. I’m afraid of selling myself short and staying in one place forever, not moving, letting myself be ruled by fear. So yes, my biggest fear is fear itself (ugh, gross).

I’m going to finish up my applications this week. And I’m going to submit them. And I’m going to feel like throwing up. But I’m also going to trust that I am not inadequate. I’m smart, and I can write a good sentence. This is true. And there are other nice things about me too, even if I can’t think of them right now. I’m not going to let myself be a fearful person. That is not who God created me to be. The only fear I’m holding onto is the fear of being boring. I am not boring. You are not boring either. Let’s all not be boring together.

One thought on “The number one thing I learned from graduate school applications

  1. Dodger Emerson

    Egads, that’s exactly how I feel. The terror of “Did I do enough? What if I didn’t do enough?!” It’s frustrating, at the very least. Good luck!

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