I got an e-mail notifying me of my acceptance to the one university that I applied to yesterday.
I haven’t felt much about it other than the sudden absence of worry that I might not get in.
Other people have been enthusiastic, though, to a point that I don’t really understand. To me, it was more of a bureaucratic hurdle than anything. I’m no dummy; I know that plenty of people of average intelligence get accepted into and even graduate from university. This is not and should not be considered a marker of intelligence so much as a willingness to fill out forms and jump through hoops. So when people tell me, hey wow good job, my immediate thought is that they think that I’m stupid and that’s why they’re impressed that I was accepted.
This thought has nothing to do with these people. They’re nice folks, and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity. It’s just a reflection of my childhood imposing itself on my adult life. I’m slowly getting better at managing this stuff and separating out the insidious whispers of my youth from reality, and I think that’s key to growing up.
I am excited to have been accepted; I’m excited to get out of community college and get a big-girl degree. I’m excited to no longer be the only person in my family without one. I’m excited that after that I get to move on to a new part of my life, one I probably should already have been working on ages ago. Some of us take a little longer to cotton on than others, I think.
In any case, I thought it would be fun to share my application essay. Judging by my cumulative GPA, I have to assume it was the reason I was accepted. In the meantime I’m one day and one exam away from spring break, and excited to have the chance to get some work done.
The moment I realized that contemporary corporate capitalism had failed us, I was sitting in a dingy meeting room with my coworkers, listening with dawning horror as we were told that we would all be laid off. It was 2010; we had weathered the Great Recession. The country was now said to be in a period of recovery. We thought we had survived. The layoffs were the result of an acquisition of our regional utility company by a larger one; the acquisition happened during the run-up to the recession. We had been assured that our jobs were safe.
The moment when I learned that “failure” is another word for the moment when we stop trying, I was on a rocky footpath in the hills of Bhutan. I was suffering from pneumonia and hepatitis. One of my knees had given out under me a couple of miles back, and I was leaning heavily on my trekking poles. I was hiking back to town from our trekking group, too sick to continue the climb from our basecamp at thirteen thousand feet to the summit of the trek at just over fourteen thousand. I paused on the trail to catch my breath and looked down at the Paro River below. I knew it was cold; it was flowing down from the snow-covered mountains that we were escaping. It was milky with silt and bluish green. In that moment I knew I did not have to carry on. I could lie in those icy waters until the whole thing was over. It wouldn’t even take that long.
I didn’t stop. I kept going, but even in my compromised state it was with the crystal clear understanding that continuing was a choice that I had made.
Both of these moments were instrumental in bringing me to where I am today. I have recovered from the second but not the first; after working a series of temporary jobs in a desperate bid to pay my bills, I realized that I didn’t want to depend on the whims of a large company for my living.
We’re told that taking a job with an employer is the safe option, and that entrepreneurship is the risky one. Year after year, the idea of job security seems more illusory. It’s time to ask whether the safety we supposedly receive in exchange for our independence is worthwhile, and whether entrepreneurship is a smart way to hedge against the whims of the market.
Since these events, I have published my first novel and written a few other books. I have also started a small business to sell and market those books and have come to realize that great writing is only one small part of succeeding as an independent fiction author.
My goal is to become a producer of value in the economy rather than a voiceless part of a much larger production chain. An education in business, acquired in my own community where I have long-standing relationships with a number of local entrepreneurs who can supplement that education with mentorship, seems to be the next logical step toward success.