Amanda's Quarter Life Crisis

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“This month is the foundation for the year. Lean into the struggles; give thanks for the easy times. Hard doesn’t mean wrong. You’re on the right path.” -Tsh Oxenreider

I got rejected from a Creative Writing MFA program a fourth time this week.

I got pretty close this time though—I applied to one program and I was waitlisted for that one program, and there might have only been about three people on that waitlist, and this time, I was one of them.

I’m disappointed. But I’m not devastated. The first time I applied to programs, I was so sure I would get accepted. This time, I thought it could lean either way.

I drive in the freak April snow on my way to pick up Ries, hit shuffle on one of my favorite playlists, and Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” plays. I’ve told Ries that if there was a soundtrack to my life, this song would be it.

It occurs to me while I am driving and tearing up a little, that a lot of my deepest wounds primarily come from the device resting in my cup holder—an MFA rejection in a tiny rectangle of an email notification; finding out I had been excluded from my friend group, two bridal parties, and hadn’t even received wedding invitations for two weddings I was certain I’d be invited to through one tiny square photo on a social media app I don’t use anymore; a call from my mother when she couldn’t speak, but I knew what she couldn’t say—and I wondered why, why do we have these devices, when they have the ability to cause so much pain.

An email is professional, and I know rejection stings regardless of how it is delivered, but for some reason I wish I had received the news in person. I’m try to remember the last time I felt this way when a cell phone wasn’t involved, and think of the time I opened my locker to find a break up note from Mitchell Ray saying he “needed some space,” after I had been told by a friend he had kissed a more popular girl at the movies the previous night. I was heartbroken. We had met at the county fair and the guy let me name his pigs after all.

Rejection is rejection. I’m not going to stop writing. In fact, I am irritated at the moment that I can’t write more. I want to, but with a ten month old and a fifty or sixty hour work week, it hasn’t been a priority in the past couple months. It’s not being rejected from this specific program, this specific year that bothers me.

Ries showed me this video of a woman with cancer at a slam poetry reading the other night. She begs the audience to stop wasting time and do what they want to do, what they keep putting off doing.

The thing that bothers me most at this juncture is not that I have failed, but that I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what I’m putting off. Right now, I want to spend time with Gus and Ries, and I want to make macaroons for the first time, and have time to cook us dinner, and I want to clean my bathroom, and maybe get my nails done, and I want another baby (Yes! I know! Already!) and a puppy, and to run again, and I want Gus to sleep through the night. As for aspirations larger than those things, I’ve got nothing.

When we moved to Bloomington, I decided to branch out and try a new career field: hospitality. I’ve spent the past six months trying to make hospitality work for me, and thus far, it’s not just been disappointing, it’s had a negative effect on my well being. Ries hasn’t understood why I don’t just apply for other jobs, and I haven’t been able to articulate it until now: I don’t know what’s next, and I don’t want to spend time working in a career field I have no interest in staying in long term. I don’t like treading water. I don’t like wasting time. I haven’t been able to let go of hospitality yet, maybe because I’m stubborn, but mostly because when I do, I’ll be taking a leap, and I can’t see if I’m going to land on solid ground or free fall into a worse unknown.

The things I want to do and the person I want to be—a professor, or a stay at home mom, or some sort of corporate barbie, who is a published writer, knows how to bake the shit out of French pastries, and has a bunch of babies and a bunch of dogs and one (or two) grumpy fluffy cats, well, that person seems at least five years away and I’m not sure how to work toward that person.

And I guess this post is a little more sad than I intended, but these are growing pains. I’ve been told by one of my friends from the hotel that around age 27 or 28, the stars line up the exact way they were when you were born for the first time, and this usually results in questioning what you are doing with your life. I think back to when Ries was 27, working a job he hated, trying to make things work, not sure what his options were. It’s normal. I’m where I should be.

As long as Ries and I have known each other, I’ve always looked at where he was (two years older than me) and wanted to skip the “figuring stuff out” part and just be in the same place as him. And right now, of course I want to be doing what he’s doing. He’s kicking ass right now, and I’m really proud of him. Envious, in fact. I have always admired and looked up to him, but especially now, after the life changes we’ve made in the last year, I’m more impressed.

As for my next step, I’m giving hospitality one more chance—I’m transferring to a hotel up in Indianapolis, and I’m really hoping that I find what I’m looking for. When I started working in this field, I was really attracted to and interested in working at a five star hotel or resort, whether it was a historic hotel or something more along the lines of Four Seasons. And don’t even get me started on Disney resorts….

If I do get further down this road, and I find that maybe hospitality really isn’t a good match, as much as I want it to be, I’m going to be looking into different career fields. If anyone has suggestions for someone who likes money, is good working with people but generally prefers to work alone, like rules, and dislikes working over forty hours a week, (Hi, um, I’m not having these babies so I can never see them.) let me know. I’m thinking software development at the moment.

As for writing—I just got my second publication in the mail today! So it must be time to submit more poetry.

That’s all for now friends.

Thanks for reading.

-A

(Written 19 April.)