My GRE score arrived in the mail yesterday, which means I can start my applications for grad school. I spent some time this morning reviewing Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, figuring out the difference between the MA and the MAIS. I researched the top International Relations programs in the country and made a mental note of which ones I would apply to. I looked into duel MA/JD programs for the second time; it’s an exciting option but I don’t know if I can handle 4 more years of school or if I need both degrees.
The wheels are set in motion. I’m quitting in June and moving to Shanghai in July. I’ll be completing my grad school and law school applications during my first three months abroad and returning to the States next fall for school. I’d like to get a short-term teaching job in China, look into some volunteer opportunities, and/or spend a few months in an ashram. It’s very Eat Pray Love of me, I know. I want to visit my friends in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, explore Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia. I can’t wait to spend my 25th birthday with my family in Shanghai. I want to…
Yet as March turns to April and April to May, I’m plagued by anxieties. A year abroad is not the most practical decision I could make; I could easily spend the next year staying at my current job. But just thinking about doing that depresses me. I’ve given all I can to this paralegal job and taken away just as much from my experience here. I’ve learned so much in the past two years but now I feel like I’m no longer being challenged here. The work days blend together and every task feels like a chore. I’ve done all that I can here. Another year at my current job would not add anything new to my resume or enrich my life in any way.
Still, there is security and comfort in staying the same course. More than ever, I understand how much courage and determination it took for Santiago to pursue his Personal Legend in The Alchemist. He left the stability of his life, of everything he knew to unearth the treasures he dreamt of at night. He had many opportunities to stay complacent, each more alluring than the last. But he pushed on, pursuing a seemingly ludicrous dream. The journey itself strengthened his character and provided him with the tools he needed for success. I imagine that even if he didn’t ultimately find the treasure, he would not have regretted the journey. If not for this pursuit, he would have remained a shepherd all his life, wondering always if he should have taken more risks.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.”
I’ve been thinking about how I want to spend the next year everyday for the past 7 months. I’ve turned the decision over and over in my head, considering it from all angles. Every month, I think of one more reason to go and one less reason to stay. The voices of doubt and uncertainty are not mine but others’. It has been difficult, painful even, to try to explain my reasoning to others. I can understand my parents’ concerns but my friends are a different story. I know they are concerned for my best interest but the conversations are no more than interrogations that make me feel trapped and abused. I know their questions come from love, but how presumptuous of them to assume they know what’s best for me. No one has put as much thought into my future as I have (with the possible exception of my parents), and no one knows what makes me happy or what career I want to pursue better than I do.