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Friday, January 18, 2013

To Plan or Not to Plan

Look, I'm a pantser. I don't plan. I never plan. Why? Because my plans are all shit, that's why. My plans never play out. I can't bend my life to my will, it's too chaotic. And if I waste my time making plans, then I have to plan for (see what I did there?) more time on the other end, to wallow in self-pity when those plans don't work.

I had one plan once. I was going to be an executive producer for a daily newscast in New York City. And I worked my ass off to make that happen. Then, my life, as it often does, threw me a huge curveball, from which I have only just barely recovered.

It took me years to accept that I was no longer on the hot-shot, young-thing-in-news track. I'm dried up. I'm no good. I've been out of the business for too long. I had a family instead. Oops.

Now, some people can do both, but in my particular case, things aligned in such a way that I would have had to sacrifice the comfort, stability and happiness of my family to continue on my track.

And you know what? I'm better for having gotten out. I never would have believed it at the time, but I've hoofed it and worked and plodded and now I have a new track, with better opportunities, better money (eventually), better hours, and just generally a better life.

So, when people ask me what I'm going to do with my graduate degree, I roll my eyes.

I don't know. I don't know, okay?

Because whatever I say, whatever long-term goal I set my sights on will fall through and I never, ever want to find myself thrown back to the basement, trying to figure out who I am.

I know who I am. I am a pantser.

I didn't know I was going to start a daily blog until I started it. I didn't know I was going to write a book (or six) until I wrote them. I didn't know I was going to have a family until I was pregnant. I didn't know I was even going to grad school until I applied.

I don't think about things anymore. I just do them. And with all the things I have to do, I don't have time to think. I know this sounds incredibly stupid, but it's working for me.

A new friend of mine and I were laughing just yesterday. If we were both being chased by tigers in the jungle, we would both (hopefully) survive. She would survive by hiding in the bunker she'd built meticulously over the months preceding the incident on the off-chance a tiger would ever chase her. I would survive by running my ass off and jumping into alligator-infested waters, holding my breath until the tiger lost interest, then swimming like hell to get away from the alligators.

Her way is better. But it doesn't work for me. Because I'd forget to lock my bunker door or some shit. I'm just bad at planning.

All these people in my classes are so passionate. They're there because they're passionate about changing the world, about personal growth, about being better and making better.

And I'm interested and intelligent and I can contribute to theoretical discussions with the best of them, but when  the professor goes around the room asking, why are you here? Passion is not going to be my answer.

I'm there because money.

I'm there because I'm lucky enough to have secured the money to go. I'm there because I hope to make more money in the future with it.

Does that make me an asshole? Yeah. Especially when confronted with the unabashed idealism of the other students.

But at least I'm an honest asshole.

So, why am I going to graduate school? What am I going to get out of it?

I don't know.

All I know is that I'm going to kick its butt, like I do everything else by working so hard my eyeballs fall out from exhaustion. And then I'm going to let things come. I'll work for them, I'll try for them, but I will not define them. Because I know the very second I say, "I want to work for so-and-so as a such-and-such" I will have effectively closed that door. Or worse I will have closed all the other possibly better doors that I cannot yet see at this time.

My goal is to go to grad school and be awesome. That's as far as I dare go. (And if you know me, even that's a stretch. Hah.)


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