I never thought that grad school would kick my butt, and it’s not. . .not scholastically.
But as I was driving home from a day spent lazily and homeworklessly at a friend’s house tonight, I was assailed by the contrast between who I am now and who I wanted to be at the age of (almost) 24.
I look at my friends, and I’m shamelessly envious. Katie is preparing to go to Sudan to do some pioneering linguistics work. Nate and Jessica are working through medical school. Heidi is starting YWAM Discipleship Training School in two weeks, in a leap of faith that makes my jaw drop. My friends are movers and shakers, world-changers.
And me? The girl who once had dreams of dropping everything and moving into intentional community in the inner city? The girl who wanted to work with sex trafficking victims or community development among some of the most disenfranchised people in the world?
I’m preparing to help middle-class Americans tackle mid-life crises.
I’m not saying that it’s not a high calling. It’s just not at all what I wanted when I arrived at CIU.
And I’m scared spitless that it’s going to be what I want when I leave.
I’m comfortable here, y’all. Not happy, mind you–my life right now is such that I have fairly regular attacks of “I-literally-cannot-get-out-of-the-car-and-enter-that-situation” social phobia, among other hitherto-unknown evidences of fractured mental health*. But I’m comfortable–that is, used to getting what I want, used to having options at the grocery store, used to having the kind of ‘trials’ that make me want to beat myself up on the playground for being the prissy, pampered kid who can’t handle life in the raw.
And that is beyond terrifying. I’m frightened that I’ll get used to this, not want to give it up. I’m scared that I’ll find Mr. All-American and settle down to a white-picket-fenced life, carefully structured to avoid as much pain as I possibly can. I’m scared that I might trade my dreams of helping victims of sex trafficking or washed-up missionaries for life as a soccer mom. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being a soccer mom–it’s just that I, with my passion for social issues, my tenuous ties to America, and my loathing of all things half-hearted, have no excuse not to tackle those dreams. . .no excuse, that is, but the stumbling block that is my cushy comfort zone.
I underestimated the allure of the easy life before I got here. I can see tangible evidence in my life that grad school is changing me, and a lot of those changes are negative–my character, as far as I can tell, is far weaker and more shallow than it was when I entered CIU. I’m genuinely worried that in two years, I’ll roll out into the real world as yet another graduate school casualty, with no motivation left to actually live for something beyond my own self-fulfillment or that foolish, shallow, nausea-inducing American dream. I know that I have a choice in the matter–but I’m not sure I’m strong or determined enough to resist.
*Note: Please don’t think I’m on the verge of a psychotic break. I’m actually one of the healthier people in the program. It’s just the nature of the beast. Wait until you see what the third year does!