Last week I got a phonecall on my cell phone (wuh?) from a very nice professor at BYU to tell me that I have been accepted into BYU's MFA program for fall semester. Once I had thanked him and hung up the phone, here is what I did not do:
1. Shriek with joy.
2. Call my friends.
3. Update my facebook status.
4. Go online and check out what I'm supposed to be doing now.
5. Go out for cake at The Chocolate to celebrate.
6. Feel excited.
Why, oh, why? Why after all this
was I cheated did I
cheat myself out of a well-deserved celebration moment?
Well, I have some ideas about that, after a few days of pondering and self-psychoanalysis. Here's a list of random possibilities:
1. I'm still licking my wounds from the original rejection.
2. I was licking my wounds that day from another rejection (this one from the children's writers side of my life).
3. I didn't feel it as a solid success since I knew they didn't want me before.
4. I had been hoping I had improved myself enough to be accepted to the U as well, and wanted to wait until I heard from them before I let myself be sure I was even going to the Y.
5. Suddenly the reality of it (the work! the money!) sunk in. I realized I had gotten awfully good at being lazy, at having my days stretch out ahead of me with not much of great obligation to do.
6. If I'm going to go to school in the fall, I should probably actually get around to doing all those projects I had thought I'd do "someday, when nothing else is going on" but had been ignoring, like updating the scrapbooks (uggggh) and painting the bathroom.
7. Insecurity: what if I'm not good enough? What if I get there and can't hack it?
8. What happens after I go to school? Always in my life I've held this in my heart: "Someday I'll go back for a master's." What will happen to me when I don't have that to look forward to anymore? The future stretches out ahead of me, bleak, with nothing to look forward to . . .
Well, anyway. I see now how I denied myself something good. And today (after a good long talk with a friend who understands, despite the fact that she ISN'T HERE TO TAKE ME OUT FOR CAKE) I am trying to revise my outlook. Here's my response to each of those things:
1. Dang it, it was their loss that they rejected me before. And maybe it was all about timing—remember what happened that year (a big illness and then TREK) that would have created such a mess if I had been in school.
2. Rejection is part of this career. Get used to it.
3. They probably did want me before. They were probably kicking themselves over and over again for letting me get away. (Yeah. Just tell yourself that.) But anyway, they at least wanted me enough to put me on the waiting list, knowing chances were good that I'd come . . .
4. I know that the aesthetic at the U is not the same as mine. I had been hoping that I could get in there and learn from it anyway, but the fact is that I really don't like much of what I read in Quarterly West. I might have been miserable there. (Yes, I was rejected by them a few days after I heard from the Y.) Besides all that, BYU's program is probably just as good as the U's and just as rigorous—it's just younger. And, don't worry, I'm going to be pushed plenty by the writers there. There's enough diversity there to challenge me, for sure. (Still, I know that it works against me, career-wise, to have my MFA from the same school as my BA. Oh well. Nothing I can do about that, if I can't afford to attend a low-residency school. Let it go.)
5. I have to admit that when I've been in intense poetry workshops, I have LOVED the work, and my busy life. There's always that physical hesitation when I know I have to sit down and produce something for class, but once I get moving I relish the work. I am happiest when I am working hard at something I love.
6. I still have five months to do those dumb projects. And maybe now that there's a reward and a reason for hurrying, they'll be more enjoyable, too.
7. They accepted me because my test scores, grades, and portfolio show that I am fully capable both of doing the work and of benefitting from what they have to teach me. I am a fantastic addition to this incoming class.
8. I'll be a different person then. I'll have learned and grown in ways I can't know now. New things will appear on the horizon—new goals and challenges. In the meantime, I will have had A BLAST.
So there you go. I've talked myself into being excited. And, dang it, I AM going to have a blast. I love BYU and can't wait to be on campus again. I love poetry, and I love pushing myself. I'm always happiest when I'm in school. This is going to be FANTASTIC for me.
Now, if I could just get me some cake . . .