In two weeks I will officially be starting my last year of graduate school. I’ve kind of gone through this before of course, about 4 years ago for my bachelor degree. Even though I’ve been working on my thesis off and on all summer, the movement into this upcoming school year makes the finality of it feel more real. My aunt has already texted me asking what the exact dates for graduation are so she can look for cheap tickets to fly into Chicago. It’s all happening again, the anxiety to make something happen right now, for lighting to strike long and true. I’ve had two publications since being in graduate school. I’ve done four readings and organized two summers of workshops for my cohort. I’ve taught, tutored, T.A’d, M.C’d a reading series, became the graduate ambassador for the fiction program, and still found time to live my personal life. The true point of my recounting all this is not to brag or show off, but to reflect on the idea of success.
Success is defined as the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals. To me this means that anything you do on your way to the achievement of your goal is a success. Even when things don’t go as expected, you are still learning, accumulating skills. There is so much pressure to be something in this world that it can be stifling and counter-productive. We tend to mark our own merits as they compare to others. We cannot do this. You will only be you and your time will come. This journey is yours to create. It’s mine and I need so badly to remind myself of that each time I approach my thesis. Every time I think about all that I have to do, I tend to shut down and look for any distraction that I can use to avoid the work. But when I think of all the work I have already done, and all the stories I have out there waiting to be published, I remember how possible everything is.
I remember the magic of creating. Also, sharing my work at readings is always really helpful to me. You get the immediate validation of applause and you can feel the silence that falls over people when they are enthralled with your words. Of course I’m hungry for more, for everything that my future holds, but right now I’m trying to keep my steps steady, because steady steps can add up to full marathons. Entering this last year with my cohort, with all the skills I have acquired, is exciting as well as daunting. This year will be full of work and tons of reflections, but most importantly it will be full of success as I define it.