If you’re reading this, my cohort and I survived the second of three semesters in our graduate program.
I want to say that this one was easily more difficult than last semester, but it’s too close to call at this point. Regardless, if ever there was a definition for “struggle,” this semester was it.
For me, this semester was all about taking advantage of opportunities. Last semester was about learning to navigate being in school again, along with being in a different location. This semester was about being brave in other ways. It was about taking advantage of networking opportunities. I went to a CAAN Connect: Chicago event and met a food & wine writer for the Chicago Tribune and the editor of Eater: Chicago. I had amazing and affirming conversations with a Black female children’s book author dedicated to writing stories that Black kids can see themselves in, and a woman working to make things better in the business world for LGBTQ folks. We talked gender wage gaps and performance gaps, as well as gentrification within the city. At best, it was a chance to connect with other professionals at different phases of their careers. At the least, it was a free meal and adult conversation.
From here, I’ll take a page from the legendary Andy Boyle and send them fan mail to thank them for their time and establish another small connections, for the future, of course.
This semester was also about being tired, upset, overwhelmed, confused… and still producing good work. It was about honing the art of finessing a situation. This semester I was writing three stories for Echo magazine, a draft and a rewrite at the same time in Legislative, and trying to keep up with reading in State & National Government seminar. Exhausted wasn’t the word. I was in a magazine class with undergraduates whose concentration it was–I was behind the curve, to say the least. But I knew why I was here. I got a little less sleep, did a little more extra credit (probably lost a little more sanity). After starting a semester with a crash course in real-life photojournalism J-term and surviving a magazine production class (for which the undergrads were getting six hours to my three), I did what I knew I’d have to do–push through. I knew the experiences and the results would be worth it, even if I was limping and wheezing by the time I got to the finish line. And I most definitely was.
I did things I didn’t think I was ready for. I did things I was deathly afraid to do. Honestly, that’s been my story since I moved out here last August; heck, it’s been my story since I even thought about applying to school and launched into reeling from the very idea of it all.
I’m walking away from this semester with my name on two magazines and with a plethora of connections that symbolize promise for the future. And I’m young or whatever, so maybe my mind and body will bounce back?