graduate school · memoir · personal · Writing

Secure Anxiety

For close to a decade, I have been in school. In 2006, when I was 22, I started college at UCO. I’d taken a couple years off, after completing my Associate’s degree back in Washington at Olympic College, and then moving to Oklahoma. (Long story). It was a summer session–British Literature, The Romantics onward, I think. Four weeks of Wordsworth, Coleridge, James Joyce, Plath, Ted Hughes, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Tom Stoppard. Oh, and we read The Heart of Darkness, too. Then, in July, it was English Grammar and Usage, the first linguistics class I’d ever taken, and the first time that language felt like mathematics.

Now, all these years later, and I’m in my last semester as a doctoral student. I hope. So much depends on my dissertation.

So much depends


an unwritten dissertation

Half-formed with


Waiting to become a book

My career is a strange one, to look back on. When I began at UCO, I was going to be a Shakespeare scholar. When I began at Olympic College, I was going to be a psychologist. When I was 14, I was going to be a veterinarian. When I was 4 I was going to be a nurse.

Somewhere in there I was going to rule the world or discover Atlantis or be the next Karate Kid (in real life, though. Not in a movie). Or all of the above. Through all of it, I was going to be a writer. I’ve always been a writer, even before I knew how to write.

Now, I’m writing about fiction and ethnography of the interwar years, and digital identity construction in the Chickasaw Nation, and also about ethnographic methods in the work of Langston Hughes. And soon, I’ll be finished with graduate school, and I’ll be the professor.

When I find a job, that is.

And I’m still a writer.

I’m eager to move on to the next stage, but also a little bit nervous quite a bit terrified nervous. Nervouscited, to quote Pinkie Pie.

As ready as I am to be done, and as unhappy as I have often been throughout my graduate school career, at least I know what it’s like here. I’m anxious about the thought of staying here, but secure it the familiarity of that anxiety. I’m anxious about the thought of leaving, and secure in the knowledge that I’m ready for the unfamiliar, but uncertain if the unfamiliar will be better, worse, or just more of the same.

Either way, I suppose I should get back to work on that dissertation.

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