Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On a wing and a prayer...

So, I just sent off my last application to grad school, and I'm completely terrified at the idea of possible failure. I guess I've always taken for granted the reassurance provided by an underlying faith in my abilities. I was calm because I didn't see failure as an actual possibility. But now, I'm on the wrong side of mediocrity, and I can't figure out how to cope with the fact that I'm just like everyone else.

PhD programs are no joke. That's a given. Still, I'm wondering whether I've started bugging out unnecessarily. I've always made things out to be harder than what they actually are. It's been my way of achieving what I have over the years. I get myself worked up over the (internally fictitious) prospect of failure and then over-perform. I know afterward that the idea of failure was never real; it was something that I fabricated in order to push myself over the edge of complacency and into the waters of productivity. Now though, I'm in those waters and am, for the first time, floundering.

I've always been a good swimmer. Backstrokes, breaststrokes, doggy paddles and treading were always easy for me, and I dominated the kid and teen swim with natural alacrity. I didn't need any flotation aids and could survive in the deep end, but it’s adult swim now, and the facility that separated me from my previous company is shared by all. Many have practiced their swimming technique so much that I seem to be the opposite of what I once was. I'm nowhere near as comfortable on the deep end as they are, and I've begun to realize my relative limits.

I'm applying to 11 schools with 11 different pools of applicants and I'm worried. The pools there are all adult swims, requiring everything I have and some things that I've yet to develop. No more swimming circles around other kids in the pool, no more treading lazily in the middle, and no more doing elementary tricks. Everyone else will have passed this stage and already developed unique techniques.

I wish so much sometimes that I'd used the time I had to hone my craft instead of remaining complacent in my abilities. Now I have to hope and pray that I, by some grace of God, am accepted into the fold, that I'm skilled enough for the adult world, that I perform well enough in the deep end to warrant inclusion into the "big boy" crowd. Oh God. I long for the days when I was confident. I wish for some sense of security. There are approximately 3 months until I know for sure if I'm good enough. I'm anxious and deathly afraid.

I applied to eleven schools and I don't feel especially confident about any one of them....Failure scares the crap out of me, but mediocrity enrages me, especially when its my own...