My last semester of undergrad I did what many of my class mates were doing and began applying to MFA programs. I never considered a different path because I thought, ‘that’s what you do.’ That’s the next step. That’s what writers do. One of my favorite professors told me, ‘you need to go to graduate school, you need more school.’ That sounds harsh but I think she was saying that I owed it to myself to continue working on my craft, to be all that I could be. So, I took the GRE prematurely and went on an application rampage only to get rejected by a bunch of schools which of course led to a deep depression.
Without the next step of graduate school I felt completely lost, just adrift without a home, without an identity and without a purpose. I had always been a student, who was I without school?
I remember having a long talk with my mom and her asking me point blank, ‘what do you want? What would make you happy?’ I answered that I wanted to write, I wanted to be around other writers, I wanted to improve my craft through study and I wanted to live on the east coast. I remember her telling me that I can have those things easily without grad school, grad school would not necessarily give me the life I always wanted. I have accomplished almost all of the four goals above but maintaining those accomplishments has been a continual journey.
In fact, I’ve recently come to a crossroads; ‘do I fearlessly fight for the life I’ve always wanted, do I give all that I am to changing my course or do I stay stagnant and let life decide for me? I chose the former and expanded my list of goals. I’m not the same person I was two years ago. Happiness and success look differently to me than they did as a recent graduate.This week I excitedly created a new recipe for happiness:
Become an artist in every sense of the word. For years I planned on going to art school, took countless art courses and then just stopped when I realized I wanted to be a writer. I want to explore that side of myself again.
Travel. When I was a little girl my mom used to tell me, ‘you’re going to be a citizen of the world Chloe.’ I want that. I want to be a vagabond of sorts and go wherever I want to go. See things I’ve always wanted to see without self-restriction.
Write a series of motivational quote books for struggling millennials based on the self-talk I’ve learned over the years. Publish poetry collections and be invited to read at festivals like Lit Quake and lead workshops at conferences. Take myself as far as I can go with my writing.
Evolve into not only the person I’ve always wanted to be but someone I never wished for, to be surprised at my greatness and growth.
Live as much life as I can. Sounds redundant but I want to be involved in as many positive life changing things as I can. I want to influence others and be influenced by them. I want to meet people I would never meet and do things I would never do as the person I am now.
I will be adding to the list above over time, sharing those goals with you along the way. I want to get back to that wild righteous hopeful determination we have as children. Within reason of course, it would be very difficult to become a ballerina, world famous chef and the first female president like I wanted to be when I was ten. The inhibited hunger to be great is what I want to get back too. Must not forget that a spherical life demands a hunger to be great.