I fell into grad school naively; I did my MA at the same institution as my BA. I wasn't ready for the real world, I loved where I was, I loved literature and I wanted to be challenged. I was at the point that many students go through: I knew there was something more going on, but I was frustrated by my inability to find and understand it. I had bits and pieces, more like feelings or impressions than solid ideas, and I wanted those solid ideas. So I continued. The world opened up to me in one way, and closed off in another. I had a choice once I was done: pursue the job(s) I was trained for (and I was trained in Professional Writing) or go on to do a PhD.
The world of literature and teaching was exhilarating and exciting (yes, I am a dork). I loved every minute of it. Yes, I thought, this is what I want to do. Did I have to deal with annoying and/or toxic grad students? Yes. With inept administrators? You bet. Was it all rosy? Nope, but the day I walked into my classroom to teach my first class the first semester of my PhD, I thought, this is a dream come true. And it was.
But now, because I also dreamed of a family, I find myself on the outside looking in. Boo-hoo. But if I don't belong in higher ed, if I didn't belong in a PhD program, I can't imagine where I did or do belong. High school? When I was deciding what to do, I did consider it, but I was told (no joke) that I was too smart to go and teach high school. Now, I'm overqualified. Go back to professional writing? A bizarre mix of being both over- and under-qualified.
I go over and over the choices I have made leading up to this point in my professional career. I could have torn my family in two, choosing to stay in my tenure-track position in one place while my husband lived somewhere else, away from me and our two kids. I had always been willing to live anywhere, do anything in order to be on the tenure-track. Anything but keep my family apart. And now, I'm living in the middle of nowhere, family in tact, without the one other thing that makes my heart sing: teaching reading and writing.
We all face choices. And now, I'm choosing to try and go at it independently. I know we can't have it all, but I can damn well try.