Trusting My Heart

I called off work today because I’m sick. Not being able to do much aside from lie in bed and drink tea provides the perfect opportunity for me to craft the first blog post I’ve written in weeks. Today’s topic: grad school.

The past several months have been a whirlwind of mostly incredible things. I was admitted to my first choice graduate program and secured the assistantship I wanted most. I graduated from Miami roughly a week and a half ago with a B.A. in Professional Writing and a minor in Marketing. Over-all, things were on the up-and-up.

Graduate assistantships are tremendously valued among Student Affairs programs; they’re how students gain a lot of practical experience in the field. My program at IU requires students to hold assistantships in order to remain in the program. While these types of positions benefit the institution by providing reduced-cost labor, students often receive things like tuition remission, stipends, housing, etc. as compensation for their work.

Finding my happiness during Outreach (interview days) at IU

The assistantship I accepted – a Resident Director position  – covers all of the above and more. I’m tremendously lucky to have so many expenses taken care of. The tuition remission takes care of the in-state portion of my tuition and I am responsible for the out-of-state part. I interviewed for and accepted the position knowing this, understanding that I would have to rely on loans and/or scholarships for some of the cost.

Despite telling my parents about the partial tuition waiver, I didn’t make clear enough that I would still need to cover the rest of IU’s tuition. It came up in conversation with my mom early last week and she was livid. My dad felt similarly and insisted I hadn’t told him about the tuition situation (even though I am certain I had).

The past week and a half have been rather tumultuous. I’ve become the verbal punching bag for my parents’ anxieties about my future. They’ve made it clear that they are no longer proud of me, that my decision was selfish and poorly-calculated. My mom keeps referring to it as my “big mess-up.”

I’m entirely responsible for my grad school expenses, but they’re afraid I’ll never be able to pay off any student loans or afford a comfortable lifestyle. Prior to this fiasco, I had faith that things would work out just fine, but now I share the same fears as my parents. I do not regret my decision in my program or assistantship, but I’m anxious at the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

My dad is the Dean of the College of Business at a public university in Ohio and (as my parents have reminded me several times this past week) I could have gone there for free. Or I could have chosen a different assistantship. Or I could have gotten a job instead of pursuing more school. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty about not choosing these paths.

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Looking at the city I’ll soon call ‘home’

The nerves have taken a toll on me physically and emotionally and I’ve been incredibly stressed about money (my budget is so tight that I couldn’t purchase toilet paper when I ran out last week…luckily I had Kleenex on hand). I’m afraid of failing financially in a way that messes up my life forever.

But the reality is, I followed my heart. I went with the route I knew I wanted to go from the beginning and I don’t regret it. Throughout the course of this year, I realized that attending the institution where my dad works – and potentially living at home for two more years – was impossible because of my parents’ views on my sexuality and other things; it’s time to let myself thrive with the people and places I once only dreamed of getting to know. I couldn’t be more happy to start at Indiana this August and I’m excitedly counting down the days to my assistantship start date in July.

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My first visit to Marian where I’ll work as an RD starting this July

I got into my top choice program and landed a position that will surely bring amazing experiences and opportunities my way; I had to work really hard to get there. Despite my parents’ anger, disappointment, and nervousness, I’m proud of myself and looking forward to what’s to come.

Of course, words of assurance, financial success stories, personal tips, and anything that reaffirms that I’m headed in the right direction are welcome! However, I’m happy with my decisions and can’t wait to start anew in just 53 days.

 

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