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Last year, my boyfriend bought me a GRE study guide so that I would finally stop talking about graduate school and just start working towards it. I spent three months preparing for the test and $160 to take it, and it did not go as well as I’d hoped. I spent the next five months preparing my graduate school admission materials – stalking teachers for letters of recommendation, writing a statement of purpose and a personal history statement, speaking to professors in the program. I applied in early October to one school and banked my hopes on it, knowing that the chances were slim and that I had other options if I didn’t get in, but living life as if I would.

I didn’t get in.

This is another in a long line of failed dreams. It’s really frustrating to watch everyone around me get everything I’ve worked so hard for so easily – and in less time than I spend. I don’t know why I can’t seem to break out of the rut I’m in, but each time I get a rejection of this magnitude, or each time I start a new career path, I have to create a new path on my blank slate. This week I don’t have a list of truths, just this one:

1. I’m tired of rebuilding my blank slate, but I WILL color it in someday.

I’m thinking about reapplying next year, but it’s not my priority. My priority is to change my toxic environment. My priority is to accept that I don’t know if I have truly long-term goals, but I have long-term skills and that’s enough for now. My priority is to bring enjoyment back into my life instead of bringing in more stress. My priority is to get out of my depression. We’ll see where life goes from there.

When have you had to rebuild your dreams? What is your current life priority?


Ever have those times in your life where time seems to just stand still? Time just doesn’t seem like a consistent idea to me – one minute, it’s flying by (generally when I’m having fun) and the next, every second is painfully long (generally when I’m dreading something). Here are a few times life has ticked by ever so slowly for me:

1.The seconds after my grandma died – Not to start out on a dark note, but it’s the truth. I was in the room when my grandmother died (my whole family was). As you may recall from my secrets post last week, my grandmother was one of the most important people in my life. She was my best friend. When she died, I remember thinking over and over in my head for at least a minute (probably 5 seconds in actuality) something like, “You can’t die. You can do this. Come back.” Moving on after that cheery note…

2. Waiting for pregnancy test results – Let me immediately avert the fears of any parental figures reading this – I am very, very safe when it comes to birth control. I’ve never had real reason to think that I was pregnant. I have had, however, a few health issues (UTI, stomach pain of unknown origins) for which doctors decided I should get tested, just in case. Longest. 20. Minutes. Ever. I knew I wasn’t pregnant and it was the longest 20 minutes ever. Yikes. I’d hate to take that test when actually worried about being preggers.

3. Running – After the dramatic nature of the first two, this seems mundane, but I hate running. Hate it. I suck at aerobic activity and I really need to work on it. I warm up every workout by walking, then running, for a total of 5 minutes. Every second drips by when I’m running. I’ll keep my stride, but it sucks.

4. Traffic when running late – I deal with this a lot of mornings. I only live about 5-10 minutes from work, but with traffic, it can easily take 20 minutes. Usually I handle it fine, but occasionally you get those days when you’re running really late. It’s those times when you scream at other drivers for making stupid mistakes, flip off really rude drivers, and do all those other things that we all do but judge other people for doing. Oh, traffic.

5. Waiting for the results of a major life change (i.e., grad school, job offer) – The worst part about this? The waiting game doesn’t just take a few minutes, it can take weeks or months. For example, I applied to grad school in October. I find out in March. I only applied to one school. Their decision affects almost every area of my life because I’d be moving cross-country. It also affects my boyfriend’s plans for the future. Waiting for something this exciting, this monumental, is painful. But it makes the result that much bigger.

When has time stood still for you, good or bad?

I’m upset. My hometown school district – or the town I consider to be my hometown because I spent more time there than in any other city during my childhood – had huge fiscal problems that they had to address (the city has its own district). They’ve been throwing around different ideas for a while – closing an elementary school, cutting key activities, cutting jobs, etc. The board finally approved the following cuts (one of which I fully approve, the rest of which I dislike):

  • Closing an elementary school – I actually agree with this. Lakeville was a fast-growing city when I lived there, but the rate of school-age kids in the district has been steadily dropping for a few years. It makes sense to consolidate expenses and close one of the nine elementary schools.
  • Cutting 94 jobs – I don’t like this, but this doesn’t surprise me or anyone I know who works in the district. Unfortunately, many of the people that I know will be cut because they haven’t been tenured. I agree with tenureship in higher education (partly because each college/university has a distinct atmosphere and professors make up that, partly because I want to be tenured!) but not in K-12 education.
  • Cutting activities – Originally they were planning to cut whole programs – debate, gymnastics, etc. They are still cuttings pieces of programs – for example, we currently have funds for six Speech coaches and will now get funding for three (we have fifteen coaches). As far as I’ve heard, football hasn’t been touched.
  • Raising activity fees – Here starts the rant. Activity fees are already exorbitant – $190 for Speech (plus a booster fee just for Speech to cover all the necessary expenses that the activities office won’t cover). They’re jumping up hundreds of dollars, likely somewhere in the $400 range. For one season, per activity.

Allow me to explain my frustration with this – I was a poor kid. I didn’t go on a huge band trip to Florida with the 300 band students because I didn’t think we could afford it (sadly, I later found out my parents would have found a way). I consistently asked for help in covering school expenses. When I was in Speech, for instance, I asked for help in covering my activity fees – just so I could participate. Luckily, I was able to participate in many activities during my adolescence, not all of which were school-related or expensive (4-H, church, Speech, theatre, Target Market, etc.) There are kids already unable to afford the activity fee for Speech – what happens to them now? They’re not even going to try to join the team because they’re going to assume that they can’t afford to (much like with private schools – kids don’t know there’s generally significant financial aid offered). Even for the kids who are brave enough to ask for financial assistance, will activities have the funds to help them out? This wouldn’t bother me so much if Lakeville weren’t such a snooty, money-flaunting town to begin with, or if they offered solutions to this problem.

What happens to those kids whose families aren’t rich enough to participate in extracurricular activities? They miss out on interacting with their peers. They miss out on the enrichment of participating in an extracurricular activity. They don’t have those extracurricular activities to put on their college applications. Colleges see them as less appealing than their rich counterparts because they don’t participate in extracurricular activities. Do you see where I’m going with this? By forcing the less affluent kids out of school activities due to cost, my hometown has widened the rich-poor gap even fricken further.

I’m upset.

There were other solutions, but they chose to ignore them. Now those kids are going to pay the price.

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