I’ll be heading back to school in January. Yup, it’s official – provided I can secure the appropriate government funding, I’ll be enrolled as a matriculated student at Rutgers. I received my acceptance letter and admission packet this weekend, and I’ve got until December 12th to acknowledge my acceptance.
I’m excited. I do enjoy going to school, and I’m glad to start something new. I’ve been confused for so long about what I wanted to do with my life (which frustrated more than a few of the people who care about me), and each time I settled on something, I felt at least a little unsure of it: French teacher? What if I never actually master the accent? English teacher? I’m not sure I want to teach comp classes. Lit teacher? My literary intuition is not as strong as others. Poet? Hah! Who can honestly support a family as a poet? No one! But now, even though I’m not sure exactly where it’s going to get me, I feel like this course of study is more productive, more practical.
Which is funny, when you think about it. “This course of study” happens to be Women’s and Gender Studies. So basically I’m going to be studying gender and feminism. Oh, I know that’s oversimplifying it, and I also know that the jobs I will be applying for will be a far cry in terms of salary from my cozy corporate job – but I also know that there’s something inside of me that finally feels satisfied, that finally feels like it’s no longer searching. This is it, this is the thing I want to do.
I wonder if part of the problem to date was that everything else I ever wanted to do depended on the provision that I have a certain amount of talent. And I think I doubted the talent that I would be required to have: I’m not sure I would be as good a teacher as I would have wanted. I’m not sure I could ever have mastered the art of French the way I wanted. I am pretty convinced that my understandings and interpretations of classic and contemporary literature are neither as original nor as clever as Donna’s, or some of my other lit peers.
As a poet, I’m fairly sure that I’m good – but I’m not great. I work hard at my craft and I care about what I write, but I don’t think I have that basic raw talent, that extra spark that makes people really stop and think about what they’re reading. I know I’ve written a handful of poems that are solid and affecting, but I’m not sure there’s any long-term potential for me. I’m not saying this to fish for compliments – I’m just trying to be realistic. I love writing, and I won’t stop. And of course I won’t stop submitting or reading or any of those things – it’s part of the fun of writing. But (as someone else once said to me) there’s, like, a raindrop’s worth of fame to go around in the poetry world, and there are a ton of poets trying to share in that little raindrop. And I don’t want to be one of them anymore.
Choosing not to pursue poetry as a career path seems like a good choice for me. Since making that decision several months ago, I have been writing more often. I’ve been happier with the poems I’ve written. I’ve also had a little bit of success, with several publications and the Pushcart nom. I feel like approaching poetry as an art rather than a business has opened up quite a few things for me, and has called my Muse back from vacation.
I’m excited about the gender studies portion of this major. I’ve had an interest lately in the psychology and sociology of gender, and have done a bit of independent study on how gender identity is developed. I’m looking forward to spending some more time on this with professors who are knowledgeable and sensitive to the issues at hand. And I think at some point in the next year or so, I’ll really be able to define where I want to go with this in terms of a career.