Succeeding and Celebrating Together
The first time I went to grad school I was 24.
I had a GTA position and felt like a little kid playing dress-up. The heels I wore on the first day of class were thrift store treasures that were one size too big and two inches too high. The director of the program saw me and said, “At some point in life we learn that we’re more successful if we’re just ourselves.” I was embarrassed. And he was right.
I worked a full-time job and three part-time jobs while taking a full load of classes. I ran quickly from one building to another, rarely talking with anyone in-between and rarely sleeping. I was moving so fast that I missed the chance to really enjoy my classes or sink into the department and become a part of the community. What’s more, I was getting the wrong degree: I wanted an MFA but told myself an MA in Literary Criticism was more practical. (Really.)
And now I’m finally here. After 15 years of visiting CSU on and off to let my yearning eyes trace the route from the Lory Student Center to the classroom buildings, I finally get to walk that path.
I feel so incredibly lucky.
I am just as intimidated by my classmates’ and professors’ immense talent as I am grateful for their kindness. They welcome me so warmly that I can’t quite feel unworthy. Instead, I listen to them in my courses and think, “They are going to make me so much better.”
That probably sounds cheesy, but I’ve reached a point in life where I don’t want to compete with other people, to talk myself up or feel like they’re cutting me down. I don’t want to pretend that I know more than I do or that I read Dostoevsky each winter just for fun. I want to be real and connected, to take my work seriously and to take more risks. I want to be able to share with my classmates the struggles I’m having in my writing and to help them with theirs. I want to read and write as much as humanly possible and talk with people who will help me get even more out of these endeavors than I would on my own. I want us all to succeed and to celebrate together.
And everything I’ve experienced at CSU so far has shown me that I’m in exactly the right place.
As soon as I received the phone call admitting me to the program, I scoured Fort Collins thrift stores for all the CSU gear I could find. I impulsively threw 2 coffee cups and a water bottle into my basket of texts at the bookstore. Now I meet with colleagues by video-conference when I’m working from home and they tease me relentlessly as I remove my Rams sweatshirt to reveal a green and gold T-shirt before lifting a CSU coffee mug to my lips.
I am undoubtedly over-logo-ed and geeking out; yet I feel like I’m suiting up for the adventure I’ve always wanted – at an incredible place, with amazing people, where I can fully be myself.