on fear & grad school

I do this thing where I get really excited about something. I'm completely gung-ho and nothing can stop me now and all that jazz. After a week or two, I start to panic. For the first few weeks of new found excitement, I'm practically invincible against doubts and fears. Then I wake up one day and they settle over me like a fog the sun can't quite burn off.

That's where I am now.  The excitement and anticipation of grad school has been dimmed by all my nagging fears. What if this is just an excuse to quit my job? What if I'm not cut out to be a teacher? What if I can't do it and I'm horrible and it's a disaster?

On the last day of classes of my senior year of high school, my AP English teacher had us go around the room and talk about where we wanted to go to college and what career path we wanted to pursue. I vividly remember sitting there, looking around the room, and thinking to myself that the last thing I would ever want to do would be to teach high school. I hated everything about high school and never wanted to be reminded of it again.

But then, I also said the same thing about Ohio. I told many people I would never set foot in this state when I left it in 2008. And yet, here I am. And I love it. And nowhere else could be home now (except California. I mean, duh.).

Grad school is just such a big decision, you know? And it's not a cheap one. It's a decision that will financially follow me for a long time. I realize it's an investment in my future, but it it's a scary investment. Seriously, what if this the total wrong move? The shy girl in me trembles at the thought of standing in front of a bunch of hormonal, angsty teenagers and trying to discuss literature and grammar and basically all the things teenagers hate. How did my teachers do it? Is that why they seemed so angry all the time?

Is it worth it? How do future babies fit into this picture? Will we be able to afford to pay back all those loans someday? What if James wants to go to grad school? Will we ever be able to buy a house now?

These are the things that torment me late at night, when I'm tossing and turning and telling myself I won't go to grad school just so I can stop panicking and fall asleep.

But then, last week I started writing my statement of purpose for the program I'm applying for. And as I' was writing about why I want to teach English, everything started making sense and I felt that passion all over again for writing and literature and that deep desire to share it with others. And I thought, I may not know the first thing about classroom discipline or creative lesson planning or what have you, but maybe I can somehow give these kids what I wish my high school English teachers gave me. That english is more than book reports and diagramming sentences.

Obviously, I can't predict the future. I don't have any clue what our future finances will be. I'm sure James will not stay in this same job forever. But I do know that I will regret it if I don't try. So I'm ever so timidly trusting God and moving forward with school.

I know I can't waste my life anymore at a desk job where I'm merely here to make copies. I need to do something that matters with my life. Something where I'm using my skills and doing something important. While it feels completely scary and utterly nerve wracking and crazy, it makes perfect sense at the same time.


I always wanted to work in the medical field. First as a nurse, then as a dietitian. I did well in my classes and I loved them. There was a guaranteed job at the end of the organic chemistry tunnel. But I couldn't shake what my composition professor had told me. His class made me fall in love with writing for the first time. It was something I was good at but yet never really connected with until that class. He sat me down after class several times and told me to consider pursuing english.

So one day several months later, I took a deep breath, wrapped my scarf around my neck, braved the late autumn chill, and walked myself to his office and officially changed my major. He smiled, shook my hand, and said welcome to the nuthouse.

It was the riskier of the two roads for sure, but it made all the difference.

Like the winter of 2007, when I applied to a college I had never heard of until that day. I got accepted a few weeks later, moved a few months later, and lived out my dream of going to college near the beach. Not to mention, I met my husband there.

I guess it's time to take a deep breath, trust, and do it again.


"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
Psalm 32:8


  1. i wrote about fear this am too. it can be so hard to break free from it!! but girl, you GOT this.

    actually no. god's got this!

  2. well good luck girl!! I hope grad school is everything you want it to be!

  3. I feel it in my bones - you are doing the right thing. 100%.

    I went to community college for two years for early childhood education, and when I transferred I lost a year's worth of credits. I was devastated. I never felt 100% about becoming a teacher, and this was the red flag I couldn't ignore. I took a Mass Media class and fell in love. My Bachelor's degree is in Public Communications.

    Good luck! (Try to) have fun! And you'll rock it.

  4. HA! Did you see my latest post? We are on the same page! This is all so very scary, but I am here to remind you (because I asked others to remind me) that God will not let you fail. He will use you and your time as a grad student in unbelievable ways. If that nag is there and you have a peace wash over you about the end result, He will get you through the in betweens.

    Ya know... we took a major risk last year moving four hours from home for a grad program we weren't so sure about, and now we are looking at 9 months and Matt will have a master's degree. It's nutty. I had a hard time trusting the events that would take place in between the start and reaching the goal--but it has far surpassed anything I could have done with this past year of my life. It was just meant to be.

    I'll be praying for you. And hey how about we meet up in Cbus with our hubbies sometime and celebrate big decisions, being poor and loving life?? :)

  5. "But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying 'You are my God!' My future is in your hands." Psalm 31: 14-15. I read this verse this week and hope it is as beneficial to you as it was to me. You are trusting God, and your future is in His hands! And He only wants what's best for you!

  6. I know exactly what you mean about being made for more than making copies (believe me!!). I envy you and the way you're willing to GO GET the things you want in life. It will all work out exactly as it's meant to, and I look forward to reading how things go!

  7. I can tell you from personal experience that having GRAD school done and over with while you are still young and childless will be well worth it in the end. My husband and I rented a tiny house while I was going to GRAD school for my Masters in Education at night and subbing during the day. It was hard, crazy, and grueling at times. But once I was finished that was it. We bought a house a year later and one day will fill it with kiddos, but my degree isn't going anywhere. And that's a calming feeling to know. Stick in there girl!

  8. That must be so scary! I hate big decisions like this but I'm sure whatever the choice you will make it work. English is the best!

  9. I struggled with this exact same thing 3 years ago! I decided to go for it and at the moment I'm surrounded by in-the-planning-stages lessons, Choose Your Own Adventure books (yea, we're going to use them), and my favorite pens happily planning away, not even mad I'm working (a little) during the summer.

    If you feel the pull, even a little tug, to be the English teacher you always wanted, to show them that reading isn't stupid (they say "stupid" a lot), and to guide them through the horrible experience that is middle/high school, then you have to do it. It's worth it!

  10. I want to just hug the crap out of you.

    this is a beautiful post.

    look at us all serious and stuff.

  11. There is ALWAYS a way to make things work. Heck, the government has a program where they forgive part/all of your loans if you teach in an area that is consistently blight stricken/has low test scores. You will have the means, if this is where your heart is. Share your passion, and shine your light, girl! It wouldn't be a big enough goal if it weren't pretty scary at the same time.

  12. We really are too similar for our own good, because I feel this way too. Eeek! What is happening? I don't know why it takes comparison to motivate me. I think, "Well, THAT person did it, so I must be able to." Why can't I be my own motivation right now? Why am I so nervous about this?

    We'll do it together. Get your grad school shoes on, girl. We handling this shit FOR REAL. And we're going to be awesome.


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