I found out in February I was accepted in a regional PhD program to continue my study of Composition and Rhetoric. It is actually an awesome program that I am proud to be a part of. I have wanted my PhD since the minute I walked onto campus for the 2nd time in August of 2002. It seemed impossible then and even more impossible the more I studied. The harder I worked on my Masters I still wasn't sure if it was right.
I gave myself a year to decide for sure. Then I decided yes. I applied. But the bottom fell out in a story too hard to tell and even more boring to read. The plot though is my husband got sick. All the sudden a PhD wasn't even something I thought about. So there sat my half done application at above university. But I figured it was the universe telling me, "No, not right now." But the universe had other ideas. A call from above university while my husband laid in his hospital bed in the ICU. I knew then that, like most things in life, I was meant to do this. If it could turn around and happen like that then it was my purpose. Long story short = They wanted me despite my half done application.
Soon after I announced it, I heard someone say where they thought I couldn't hear that I am probably doing it because I have a big ego and I need to feel important. Initially, I was so mad. Then I realized that statement was honestly more about them than me. I also realized some of that is a gendered statement. And then I just didn't care because I know why I am doing this.
I am doing this because I have something important to say. I have a peace to make with the world that has nothing to do with ego, or a pay check or my workload. If I cared about any of those things I wouldn't be a teacher or even a parent. My peace to make with the world is figuring out people like me. It is adding my voice to the writing world. It is being a strong and independent woman for my three amazing daughters. It is showing them and my own students that you can set out to decide to do something and do it.
I realize that kind of drive and determination is intimidating some times. I have been in the presence of others who share similiar drives and passions and it does sometimes make you feel inadequate or less than. But that is exactly why I want to do this. Which is why I said….It is more about how they feel about themselves than how they feel about me.
I got my bachelors degree in something I loved and have a passion for….WRITING. I did it and prayed darn hard that it would land me a job that I loved which was working with other writers. I got my masters degree in something I have a passion for….WRITING because I knew I needed to do that to get the job I had decided on. It was teaching. I didn't have an education degree which meant one of two things. To teach I had to have a Masters in English and be an adjunct at a university or get an advanced degree teaching license with college teaching experience under my belt with a Masters and teach high school.
That was about a job, that was about making money, that was about changing my status or social value in the world and that was about my workload. Getting a PhD isn't about any of that. It is about me continuing my passion for writing. Teaching writing. Teaching the writing process. Being an academic and finding my voice in a world where I know belong.
I know I belong there because I feel it. I cannot even be certain I will pass the finish line. I think about it sometimes and wonder how it will end. But I know all along the way I believed I couldn't do it and I did. That isn't about ego. It is about drive, determination and a dream.
And I am a mom. The mom to three girls. One 12, one 9 and one 4. I need to show them that you can do and be what you want in the world. They need to know there are scarifices for that, but you have to determine the costs. They also understand from both their dad and I that education is a means to an end. But that that end is determined by each of us, on our own.
I work with teenagers who could give a hoot that I have studied how the writing process works for non-traditional students. They don't care that at Ball State I will study dual credit program writers and their processes and how they are different from traditional college writers. They don't care that all of my beliefs and passion lie in this idea of a writing community that can support them.
But honestly, if doing and being the best me is a sign of having an ego that needs fed. So be it. Consider my ego fed because come August 2014 I will be a PhD student and a Ball State Cardinal. I will continue to find and fight for my voice in this world. I will add to the conversation in a meaningful way. The rest is just stuff.