I failed without even failing. I ramped my stress level up as high as it would go (not intentionally, never intentionally). I began each week with a headache that was bordering on migraine. I passed all my midterms with flying colors. And I screamed the paint off the walls every day, studying until I couldn't process anything anymore.
Clearly I was not made for this.
There were many problems with this major for me:
1. It was super-brand-new. I've never taken Chemistry, not even in high school. But my professors all assume that I have taken something like their class before. Except for my Chinese professor, ironically.
2. I'm not as smart as I wish I was.
3. My normal stress level is so high that only dogs can hear it. I am NEVER not worried about something. Throw three classes I've never had experience with into the mix, and you've got someone having Chernobyl-like breakdowns with admirable regularity.
4. One shot, one kill. I had one chance to apply for this program, and if I didn't make it, then the two years I'd already spent in school would be all for absolutely nothing.
I'm always plotting, scheming, looking for my next move, as if life is a rock wall, and I'm eternally searching for the next handhold. My Plan B was a long progression of options that stretched on into the horizon. There are no easy outs, nothing really looks any more appealing than anything else, and it was starting to come down between community college and trying to get my PhD.
Yes. Community college. Or a PhD. Right. Sort of like saying, "I'm either going to eat a bowl of potato salad or stick my arm down this badger hole." You can't really compare the two.
So I went crawling back to the liberal arts like a chastised dog. I went straight to the head of the History department and told him I'm considering applying for grad school. If I have to teach, it had better be about something I KNOW I can talk about at length. I really do enjoy History, even more than English. I like all the crazy little facts. I really enjoy proving to people that there was no such thing as "the good old days." I love writing papers, and I miss searching things out in the library. Will I enjoy being a teacher? Who knows? Apparently it's what life wants me to do. I'm not good at doing anything BUT going to school as a liberal arts major. And if I'm gonna do it, I might as well do it all. So in a few years I can tell my manager at McDonald's that no, I don't remember how to work a cash register, but would they mind putting "Dr. K" on my nametag?
For James Vance, and his family
5 weeks ago