Today, I’m starting a new weekly series I’m calling “50 Question Fridays.” The premise is based off the the “50 Questions that Will Free Your Mind” from marcandangel.com. Feel free to write your own answers to these questions. If you leave me a comment with a link to your blog, I’ll make sure to hop on over and read what you’ve written 🙂 If I really like it, I may even share it with my readers!
So, question number one – how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
If this question asks how old I feel, I think I feel more like a 30-year-old than my current 23-year-old self. Granted, I’ve always felt older than my age – some say it’s maturity, I think it’s mostly due to high levels of stress and my constant focus on the future.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m running out of time. I’ve always been the person creating that long-term plan. It was great when I was in middle school, and was working on a four-year plan for high school; the same goes for my plans for college that I made in high school. My plans, even if they weren’t perfectly followed, kept me focused and determined. Well, now that I’m out of college and looking at grad school, I’ve come to realize that not only has my life never really gone according to my masterfully laid out plans, but that I’m banking the next 5-7 years of my life on a plan that doesn’t allow for military moves, baby making, or a second round of rejection from grad schools.
I haven’t told a whole lot of people, but I found out this March that I was rejected from the graduate schools that I applied to. I won’t say that I was completely shocked, but it really reinforced the idea that if I want to be in graduate school I’ll have to work harder than I’ve ever worked before in order to achieve that goal. Admittedly, sometimes that dream wavers. I applied to a variety of schools that had about 600 applicants for maybe 30-40 slots. The odds are really not in anyone’s favor, and when it comes down to it, your “fit” with the department matters more than your grades and GRE scores (of which I had average marks in both).
All this to say – I’ve written out the steps I need to take in order to make myself a more competitive candidate for the next round of applications. Unfortunately, this means taking a second “gap year” so that I can gain more lab experience. Hypothetically, I wouldn’t be able to even start grad school until 2016, and my best case scenario of finishing grad school in 5 years puts me with a graduation year of 2021 (gasp!) at the ripe old age of 31 (double gasp!). I know, I know. It’s not that old. It’s not even really old. But thinking that far ahead seems to be placing me in the mindset of a 31-year-old woman who is trying to balance the start of a career and a family, and boy is it exhausting! Again, I know 30 isn’t old. It just feels so far removed from where I’m at currently. I’d hate to put in all this time and get re-rejected, but on the upside, I’ll have suddenly “gained” a whole bunch of time back!
I think graduate school is worth the time and effort, don’t get me wrong, but my planning is aging me prematurely. I can already feel my future exhaustion, so I think it would benefit me greatly to attempt to live more in the present than so far down the road…because, who knows what will happen even a year down the road? Certainly not I! If my years and years of planning have taught me anything, it’s that you can’t predict what will happen in the future. It’s often those unpredicted road bumps that knock you off-kilter and cause you to veer down a different path. Oftentimes, the new path is great. Sometimes…well, it’s best not to worry about that.
“The best-laid plans of mice and men/ Often go awry…” – Robert Burns, Kilmarnock volume
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu