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Another dream on the shelf

Got the official rejection letter from UW last night. I think it's just now sinking in - no grad school this year.

It isn't just that - grad school is just a means to an end. In this case, the end is being a librarian. Now? Not so much. I'm starting to think my Uncle Leo was right - I lost my chance. Not going to grad school right after college means I'm not going to go. It's stupid, I know, but it's been a rough blow.

I'm not sure what to do next, now. It feels like the general course of my life (or at least, where I thought it was going) has been thrown off, and I haven't the faintest idea where I'm going now. I honestly don't know what I want to do. I'm 24, with a college degree, and still haven't the faintest idea of what I want to be when I grow up. Well, no, that's not quite right - I know what I WANT to do, but it's not feasible. In a dream world, where there's nothing to keep me from doing exactly what I want, I'd be in theater, either on-stage or backstage doing makeup. Theater's been a big part of my life since I was eight - being in a play was one of the only things that got me out of bed in the mornings my senior year of college. I had a decent-sized part in a friend's thesis show, and while I was perfectly willing to screw myself over by, effectively, dropping the final project of a class required for my major, I simply couldn't let someone else's thesis fail because of me.

So what's the problem, you may ask? Well, there are a couple of them. The biggest one is, frankly, I'm not very good. My acting...leaves a lot to be desired. Talent, say. My makeup work is better, but it's not exactly an easy field to break into - particularly since it's generally lumped with costumes, and I am baffled by textiles, frankly. Another big problem is that, even if I were to somehow get into an MFA program somewhere, allowing me to work towards a Master's in performance, well, it's not a program really offered locally. Doing that would mean leaving here, and leaving here would, most likely, mean leaving Eric, as I don't think I could get him out of Washington with a crowbar. Which means, no. Hell no, even.

Moving on? There's being a professional student, essentially - taking more classes in whatever the hell I want, maybe even getting another bachelor's. The problem? It doesn't lead me any closer to figuring out a career, really - it just staves the inevitable of growing up. Besides, I already have one piece of paper saying that a college thinks I'm cool - what do I need another one for? College is expensive, even just to take a few classes at the community college or whatever - the benefit's just not worth the output.

When I was a kid, I wanted to see myself published. I wanted to be a writer. Again, only one small problem - distinct lack of talent (as anyone who's reading the stuff of Eric's and my setting can tell you). I realize that a good chunk of my problem with both acting and writing is a lack of confidence, but come on now - I'm not so much good. There's actually a REASON behind my lack of confidence.

Everyone, at some point, has something they 'want to be' or 'want to do.' You take some classes, work some jobs that you don't much like, do what you have to do so you can [fill in the blank]. A lot of my friends are filling in that blank, too - my friends who want to be teachers are either teachers or damn close to being teachers. My writer friends? Writers. One of my artist friends just made the move to supporting herself as an artist, without the day job anymore - a rare development, to be sure, but still. Eric's getting himself in the game industry, making him a very happy Eric, and me? Well, I still don't know what to fill the blank in with. I can just keep working where I am, eventually moving my way up to becoming a more important office monkey, but there's no passion there. I guess that's the problem - the things that I have passion for are out of reach, and I don't know how to bring them closer.


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May. 26th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
some of us figure out what we want to be when we grow up, and some of us never do, s. it's just the breaks.

as for the writing thing, if you want to write better, write more. you could join scrawl--http://stwa.net, and we do flashes--flash fiction--every week, where somebody drops a topic and several folks write a story around it for an hour exactly, then everyone who writes crits the others. it's a trial by fire in a supportive environment, and one learns quickly. want to give it a try? drop my name: sue miller, in the welcome forum. write up an intro for yourself--like what you just posted above. ask to be let in. you'll be given an assignment. you can look around at the welcome forum. look for david bulley's posts--he's the boss and his will be the ones that give the entrance question. kaolin writes in there, as does debbie moorhous, formerly of NFG. give it a try. oh, and real names are encouraged. as it is a private community, you're pretty safe using yours.
i hope you decide to give it a go. there are some real jerks there, like anywhere, especially in the asylum, but if you use the short-story or the flash or any of the other forums, you'll find folks kind and helpful. and honest. i think you can write, and can't seeany reason why you shouldn't give it a go.
May. 26th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
I gots a Hug for you!
May. 26th, 2005 10:02 pm (UTC)
Stephie, if theater's the only thing that really gets you going, is there not any other way you could work with theater that's not onstage or makeup backstage? Who runs theater companies? Do they have interesting jobs? Who does publicity for larger (or smaller but real) theaters? What other fields does theater touch upon that would still have some of the excitement you find in theater? What else do you get excited about? What about children's theater or Spanish language theater? (niche theater markets that may not be as hard to break into?)
for what its worth, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and if anything, I'm thinking about going to law school after my MA. So I'll be a heavily in debt, over-educated lawyer in 4 years, perhaps, since it seems clear that there's no self-evident career path for people with an MA in Int'l Relations--rather, they're there, but the opportunities are mine to shape (which means knowing where I want to look, which takes it back to what I want to do, which means not knowing..)
In some ways, you're ahead of me: you've got a home, and a person who makes that home home. In my not-knowing-what-I-want-to-do-ness, I've basically got three continents I would seriously consider, but friends really only in the Northwest, and kind of here and DC. There's nothing pulling me anywhere but whim and caprice, which doesn't really help with feeling like an adult, like I'm growing towards something rather than just up, or with providing me with a life narrative I can grok.
My best wishes to you in your ongoing/upcoming mental percolation/mastication, and non-corporeal trans-Atlantic hugs.
(I'm getting wordy, so obviously I should go sleep, or read more children's fantasy.)
May. 26th, 2005 10:44 pm (UTC)
Keep trying!
Also, Stephie, don't give up! It's true that you've had a number of setbacks. It's also true that your lack of self-confidence sometimes keeps you - and others, like interviewers - from seeing the wonderful, intelligent, talented girl/woman inside. If you want to be a librarian, apply again next year. Don't take it for granted that because you didn't get in once, you can't get in at some point! In the next year, between now and then, try to find a part-time librarian job, or even volunteering, straightening shelves, whatever! Just something to show the people on the admissions committee that you're really serious! Believe me, demonstration of commitment in the face of adversity helps a lot in admissions applications.

Or, as Leyn wrote, look into other theatre jobs! You have a whole slew of marketable skills, thanks to your overeducation and years of theatre. Even if you end up pushing papers for a while in a theatre - you'd at least be in a theatre, working around people, building up contacts, and might be able to find a cooler job eventually. And the idea about the niche theatres is a really good one. Didn't you do that Spanish theatre in Portland for a while? Why not search out something like that? Why not get in touch with the people at that theatre and see if they have any contacts in your area?

May. 26th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep trying!
Oh yeah - and don't listen to your Uncle Leo. There are a lot of non-traditional grad students out there, because it is becoming more and more common (and acceptable) for people to realize five, ten years after graduation that they jumped straight out of college into a career that really isn't doing it for them anymore. Just be persistent, and try to do everything that you can think of to demonstrate that library sciences is what you want to do.

And don't feel that you have to have everything figured out right now. I have talked to so many people our age and older who are only just figuring things out, or haven't figured things out and picked a career mostly at random just to have something to do, or who haven't even gone that far and are still working in "temporary" (in their minds) jobs. You will be able to sort things out eventually, and you will get to do something that you want to do, if you just keep trying!
May. 27th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC)
How about your writer friend who does nothing but sit in a darkened room making icons and role-playing on line?

Try again at Grad-school. And honestly, it's common not to get into the first gradschool applied to. I know it's the closest MLS, but there will be ones who want you.
May. 27th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC)
I've heard good things about the UW theater department...

[hugs] and you haven't lost your chance to go back to school. you'll get there.

and you rock, too.
May. 27th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)
Anonymous definitely has a good point - your Uncle Leo is full of crack. Even in medical school, we have some students who are in their 40s. I don't really have much to add to what everyone else has said, except that I believe in you, and support you in whatever you decide to do. Just because you can't make money doing what you love right now doesn't mean you'll never be able to, and it definitely doesn't mean you should give it up. Ask the Spanish theater in Portland for contacts, ask Paul M if he (or someone he works with) knows anyone in your area. Hell, call up the Reed alumni office. And then maybe go audition for some community theater. You won't get paid, but it'll be good practice, and you'll make connections in the local theater community. It'll mean less free time, but if you want it it's worth it. I know it can be hard when you feel like a failure, but focus on your strengths - you're smart, dedicated, and hard-working, you do good make-up work, you're bilingual, you work well with people/the public. I love you. :*
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