Grad School on the Horizon

Grad School

Literature has always been a big part of my life. Everyday, when I was younger, my mother would read to me. Each evening, I would close my eyes, and the words transported me to imaginary worlds filled with enchanting adventures and wondrous happenings. Within those pages, anything was possible. My obsession with literature and the places that books could take me began then.

As time went on, I read everything I could get my hands on. My brothers were years older, and because of their classes’ reading list, they introduced me to classic literature at a very young age. While my friends were reading “The Babysitter’s Club,” I was spending time with Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare and making up lesson plans for a classroom filled with my most intelligent stuffed animals, their eyes wide with excitement for the day’s lessons.

My love for literature has stood the test of time. I fell in love with the intricacies of the classic novels. I loved analyzing the text and explaining to complete strangers why these authors were such geniuses. Slowly, throughout high school, I broadened my literary spectrum to include Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Oscar Wilde. I began writing research papers about what I was reading, so I could explain to others a different way of looking at the novels. Every now and again, I would pull those same wide-eyed stuffed animals out and give them a brush-up lesson on literature.

In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen wrote, “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” Though this is a bit of an exaggeration, I believe that literature is able to open the mind to new possibilities. Going deeper than the words on the page allows people to build their critical thinking skills, sometimes without even noticing it. This is why I want to teach literature. Because the beauty of literature is that it is able to sneak up on the reader and show him or her something they never thought they’d see. I want to help people make that journey.

I don’t want to just teach literature; I want everyone to be able to experience it because literature isn’t about words and paper; it’s about emotion and imagination. True literature doesn’t have to be a novel; it just needs to be able to transport a person to a different place. It’s magical. Words that can cause the human body to experience emotions by connecting to fictional characters and creatures that the authors create in his or her works.

For this, the next step in my journey to achieve this goal is applying to graduate programs. I have several schools on my list, but currently, my favorite is University of Edinburgh (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attended). They have a MSc in Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romantic, and Victorian, which is where my passion for literature lies. I will be applying later this year, and hopefully, I will be accepted.

You may ask, “Why Europe?” or “Aren’t there plenty of schools here?”

Yes, there are plenty of schools here, and many of them are great schools. However, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to live abroad.. and more specifically, live in the UK or Ireland. So much so that, when I was a child, I would speak in a British accent whenever my mother and I were out in public (and by British accent.. let’s be honest.. I was 6 or 7.. it probably was an awful attempt at a British accent).

Even more so than that, though I love many American authors, books, and stories, my true passion for literature lies in British literature.. and more towards the classics than anything. As, I stated above, I loved Shakespeare when I was very young. By fifth grade (aged 10), I had the complete works of Shakespeare in one book and spent a lot of my time reading his sonnets and acting out his plays. When my brother was a freshman in high school, he had to read Great Expectations… I read it as soon as he finished it (I was also still 10). I read Les Miserables when I was 9… I didn’t understand a lot of it, but I loved it. Needless to say, I was weird child.

Now, I have the chance of a lifetime to travel to and live in the land that produced so many of my favorite authors that helped shaped my childhood.. and my life. I have no husband, children, or any plans to have either on the horizon. So, the question shouldn’t be “Why?” It is most definitely and will forever be “Why not?”

Fairytale Reality

Fairytale Love

When I was a little girl, I loved Cinderella. Maybe it’s because I thought a prince would one day sweep me off my feet, and we would live happily in his castle forever. Maybe it’s because I wanted to go to balls and wear shiny jewelry. Who knows. I thought, “This love can stand the test of time.” But, let’s all take off our glass slippers and be honest: real world love isn’t about that.

The truth is castles are cold and drafty, and back in those times, they didn’t have indoor plumbing and water that turned hot with a twist of a handle.

I don’t want a prince to sweep me off my feet (well.. maybe a little bit). What I want is something real and tangible.

Men say that they never know what women want, but it’s really pretty simple. Here are ten items:

  1. We want to be supported, just as we want to support you.
  2. When we talk, we want to be listened to, not just heard
  3. We want you to talk to us (we don’t always want to start the conversation)
  4. When we say something like, “Wow. This is so amazing! I love this.” That means buy it for us if it’s achievable and realistic. Not right then, but maybe for our birthday (you’ll get props for remembering).
  5. We want to be touched (not just sexually). Hold our hand, move our hair out of our face, give us a peck on the forehead, cheek, or hand. These little moments make us feel loved.
  6. Don’t lie to us. Not out of fear of getting caught, but out of respect for us.
  7. Ask us out on a date. Though we love to plan things, sometimes it’s nice to have a night planned for us.
  8. Remember our favorite things (or things like food dislikes and likes)
  9. Tell us we look beautiful. (Sexy is nice on occasion, but it gets old after a while).
  10. If you love us, don’t just tell us.. show us.

And, here’s an overall statement for both men and women:

Don’t be afraid to love. If you’ve been hurt in the past, it’s hard to let go of those fears, but by letting go and trusting someone with your heart, you’re allowing yourself to grow as a person. Yeah, it may still hurt, but think about the good stuff. Realize that because of that person, you have become someone else.. someone stronger.

Stronger doesn’t mean shutting people out. Stronger means having the courage to love again. Stronger means letting go of someone or something that is pulling you down, holding you back from all the great things that you could do. Being supportive is number one on my list because, when you find the person you’re meant to be with, they will push you forward and believe in you no matter what. They want your happiness as much as they want theirs.

Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your life. Find yourself first, then you’ll be able to find someone else.

And if all else fails, remember.. I believe in you.

Strength of Character

Strength

 

In life, there are challenges that everyone faces along the way that are set there to learn from. Whether it’s getting fired, getting a bad haircut, or getting dumped, they all have one thing in common.

They all suck.

I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way of saying that, but what it boils down to is that sometimes these things just suck.

When you get fired, there’s a feeling of failure and fear when you ask “what now?” It’s a change, and in an economy like this (though it seems a bit better), change like job loss is terrifying. It doesn’t just affect you, but it affects your bank account and your livelihood.

A bad haircut doesn’t seem to be as important as job loss, but as a female, I know that a bad haircut can lead to frustrating mornings that may or may not end in tears and throwing the brush across the bathroom, which sometimes leads the boyfriend to ask about a certain monthly visitor (I would say or girlfriend, but no girl is dumb enough to ask that question in this moment). So, after the question is posed, there’s pretty much no way out of some sort of confrontation with the beast with the bad hair.

Getting dumped is on this list because it’s like getting fired in your personal life. There’s a feeling of failure and fear when you ask “what now?” The only difference is that when you get fired from a job, you get to go home and separate yourself from it. When you get dumped, you get to go home and look at all the things that remind you of them (don’t say you don’t.. everyone does).

It’s even worse if you don’t know how or why things fell apart. A break-up that catches you off-guard makes people obsessive. “What did I do?” “What if I had done this differently?” “Was there someone else?” “I feel like such an idiot.” are all things that go through your head… I know, I’ve been there.

The thing is about all these: they all change something about you, and though change is terrifying, it’s not always a bad thing.

Aside from the haircut, getting fired and getting dumped can open you up to new experiences and show you a different way of living life.. if you’ll let them. You may find a job that you love more or that teaches you what your true passion in life is. Losing a relationship can open doors that you had closed yourself because it would/could have affected your relationship.

Don’t listen to the people that say to immediately pick yourself back up and get moving. Everyone handles things differently. Take your time; figure out you again. However, don’t let this life lesson tear your life apart. You are strong, and you will survive (just ask Gloria Gaynor).

Use these moments to find yourself, to build a “new and improved” you. It’s hard to do, but once you make it to the other side, it’s worth it.

No matter how many nights filled with bottles of wine (beer, liquor), sad (or empowering) songs, and tears it takes, you will be okay. In fact, there’s a chance you will be better… except for  that haircut… go buy a nice looking hat for that.

Non-Traditional Life

Jane Austen QuoteWhen I was younger, I had my whole life planned out down to the types of flowers I was going to have at my wedding (they were Lillies). I knew that by my thirties I would be married to lovely man, have a great career, probably have a kid or two, and a lovely suburban house: ya know, a white house, blue shutters, white picket fence with a Golden Retriever bouncing around in the front yard. I was going to be happy and complete.

This year, I turn 29 years old. Of my beautiful dream life, I have zero items checked off. Sometimes, I think about all the different choices I could have made to get that life, but honestly, most days, I can’t imagine my life any different than it is now.

I tried going straight to college after high school, but I wasn’t happy. So, I picked up and left. I did what many young girls do and fell in love and moved wherever he wanted to go.

We lived about 30 minutes outside DC when the “love of my life” decided controlling me was his newest hobby. I didn’t fully appreciate his passion for said hobby, so I left. I was now a ten-hour drive away from my family, and at 20, I had to make my own decisions for the first time in my life.

The next few years, I struggled, and I moved around.. a lot. (My family really loved helping me move to various cities and states.) By 25, I found myself living in my parents basement, single, and completely lost.

This was the moment I made the decision to go back to college. I was nervous and afraid I would fail, but after a couple months in school, I realized that I was pretty good at being a student. I was(am) also one of those really annoying students that freaks out when he or she makes a B. However, somewhere within the pages of my textbooks (not the math one, though. Math is awful), I began to find myself.

There are times in the deep, dark night that the dreams from my youth creep into m
y mind, but they are chased away. The amazing people I have met, the great trips I’ve taken, and the lessons I’ve learned all trump any childhood dream (except maybe the one where I marry Russell Crowe).

This is the life I was meant for. Though one day, I may have the other things; there’s no rush. Because no matter the struggles I face, I am stronger for not choosing the traditional path, and I am happy and complete (well..  maybe not  complete, but I’m happy).