Thursday, March 25, 2010

"set your course by the stars"

On the 4th of July last year, I was more madly in love with my town than ever before.
On the 5th of July, I decided that I needed to attempt a new challenge, one that would likely take me away from this beloved town.

It was strange, realizing that as in love as I was with Santa Barbara, the fact that I still had nagging feelings of "what/where is next?" was a powerful turning point. The first half of last year confirmed my thirst for work that challenged me more, where I could apply the highest tests and purpose to my skills and intuition and passions. The first half of last year developed in me a more fervent thirst for new experiences and learning and relationships.

So I decided to apply to graduate school far far away, to the perfect one year masters degree program designed for the exact career I'd been wanting for years. And I decided that I would put all my effort into winning a top scholarship to get me there.

So for this scholarship, I dove deep into research. I emailed foreign admissions representatives, business contacts, local scholarship advisors... I conducted informational interviews.. I studied for and took the GRE... And I researched some more. Read a ton. Made hundreds of to-do lists.

Then began the writing. Oh, the writing. It was painful. Every sentence of my personal statement and proposal statement was crafted in agony. How could I cram everything I knew and had read about my field into a couple sentence summary? How could I answer all required eighteen-plus questions about who I am, my study/work/life experiences, and where I want to go in one single spaced page? I was on the emotional edge for weeks figuring it out. I had a dozen such statements found online that had won this scholarship that were tattered and highlighted from my intense study of them in order to create something as good or better. I knew the competition was out there, fierce and accomplished and driven, and several times I was close to giving up... when I couldn't figure out the precise angle of my necessary research aim for my proposal, when I didn't think my letter of affiliation would come from the foreign university, when I assessed that my college grades were crap and uncompetitive... But briefly, just a couple times, I thought: I could win this. I have amazing experiences, travel/work/life, behind me. Maybe my writing will draw them in. The letter of affiliation has come! My references are stellar. I think I'm what they're looking for. I hope.

I've never been on such a rollercoaster of belief in myself as I was during August and September. Then I just had to wait.

On January 29 I was told I was a finalist. I was in the top 15 or 20 for ten awards. Just reading the first line of the email I had tears and shaking hands and a pounding chest. That was affirmation enough. I am so honored. And I'm the better for having applied... the process was transformational. So then I've waited some more.

Sometime in the next two weeks I will hear the final answer. It will come by snail mail. The letter, no matter what it says, will change my life. And I'm prepared. I've opened envelopes before that held answers that changed my life, answers that I hadn't expected or hoped for. And it has all worked out okay. I know for certain that it will all be okay this time too. No... not okay... fantastic. Scholarship or not.

You'll hear from me in the next two weeks... shortly after I find myself alone on a beach, opened envelope and unfolded letter in hand.

“When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure,
full of knowledge.”

-Constantine Peter Cavafy


emilykatz said...


Tara said...

I can't wait for the update! So exciting. Let's talk soon. I mean it! This week...?