I react to the possibility of disaster with machismo–not the cutlass-between-the-teeth kind, the eventual-heart-attack kind. I got to go and see a former professor, a really kind and friendly woman. She suggested I consider a master’s to see if I’m ready for the several more years’ intellectual rigor and labor I’d have to endure to get a doctorate.
And part of me responded–just as it responded every time a dear former professor recommended not rushing headlong–with, “Oh, noooooo, I might end up trapped in a thicket of bad choices, and have to pick my way out over the course of several extra months or years! I might have nothing to show! I might have made humiliating mistakes! I might hate my life! I might have to start all over! What a catastrophe! How would I ever cope?”
I hear What if it’s not what you want after all? and part of me says, pfft. Like that’s anything new.
I don’t know how to feel about this. I guess I should feel dismayed: HOOYAH is not a sensible reaction to misgiving. I might luck into bad options like a cult or a husband. Or both in conjunction. Life offers all sorts of disastrous possibilities. And if you take joy, even perverse joy, in your own unhappiness…well.
But I think…I think there’s some strength in that hard knot my brain has now, the place where fear skids into excitement and then into dual certainty. I’ve gathered a lot of experience in screwing up: making terrible mistakes and then having to diligently correct them. As terrible as it is, it’s really not so bad. You do gain from your mistakes. You gain the mistake. And although it can lead you to give up on your judgment, you do learn from living with your own weakness. I’m not afraid of ending up in the wrong endeavor, not really.
And when I probe around the edges of my eagerness for this, to see if I’m just looking to get hurt, I don’t find perverse excitement. And, for what it’s worth, I can’t rush into this.