Back Between Horizons

Christmas break is nearing, and I am a week and a half away from finishing my first semester at graduate school.

Well. To be more accurate, I am a week and a half away from finishing my only semester at this graduate school.

I can’t make this pretty, wrap it up in bible verses and poetry, because it’s not pretty and I am breaking with this and people I love are broken by this and there is nothing I can do about it.

I’ve decided to leave Western, and not finish my degree here. Not even finish my first year. I don’t know if this is a good decision or not, but it is a decision and that’s progress. There are several reasons for this, all of which I am happy to talk about in more detail with anyone who would like to know. In short, the reasons are as follows:

  1. I don’t need this degree for my career aspirations (such as they are), and I can’t find a way to make the amount of mental, spiritual, and emotional stress and anxiety I go through on a weekly basis here worth it.
  2. I disagree with some of the ways teaching and learning are approached here, and that is unsettling and discouraging. I think in this respect, Hope College set me too high a standard, that no other school will ever reach…
  3. The Medieval Institute is going through several changes, which means it is in an in-between (or liminal, which is a new-to-me word that my Medieval Performance class greatly enjoys and which I shall adopt because it makes me feel smart) phase of its life. These changes make things hard for students, and I am not devoted enough to the program to want to see it through them, even though I know they will ultimately be good.
  4. I want to join, as they say, the “real world.” I know that professional upper-academia is not on the list of things I want to do with my life, and student life, which is one giant liminality in itself, is beginning to wear on me. I want roots, stability, and a cat.
  5. There is no time and space for, or acceptance of, art or creativity here. I didn’t realize just how much I need these things in my life until I had them all but taken away.

It seems most responsible for me to back out now, instead of making the Institute pay for another semester of my tuition when I’m not planning on finishing the program.

This decision has been, and will continue to be, very hard for very many reasons. I hope that in a few years, once I am somewhat more settled, have a steady job, and am on the way to paying off my undergrad loans, I might be able to enroll in Signum University, and go through their program to earn a certificate or an MA in Language and Literature. I would like that. That is enough of academia for me.

That said, all you kind, beautiful, supportive people who read my blog, I would appreciate any prayers, positive vibes, and/or kittens you care to send. This isn’t easy. This is the furthest thing from easy I can imagine. I have spent this week in some less-bad level of Dante’s hell, and this decision is tearing apart some of the people I care about most in the world. I think I have finally reached the limit of Number Of Tears One Can Cry Over A Thing, which is probably for the best, but getting up the nerve to sign the paperwork to decline my assistantship for next semester took me a long time, and I still have to face my Director and my boss, and the other students of the Institute, many of whom I know will do their well-meaning utmost to convince me to change my mind.

So–what am I going to do now? For starters, I’m going back to Vermont. I will be getting some job somewhere and doing work at home that I have absolutely no doubt is deeply good. I would like to stay in Vermont for one more full year, if I can, just to see it all again. And after that, I have no idea. There’s a certain place in Ohio that has a few draws. There’s a theater in Pennsylvania that puts on musical bible stories. There’s Holland, which I still love very much. There’s a Refuge in Georgia for Christians who dance (good golly, Georgia?). There’s The Potter’s School, which I still fondly desire to return to as a teacher. And there’s Vermont, which will always be there, and will always be beautiful. There are a lot of things I can do. I don’t know what’s next. For now, I’m just going home.

(Parents: For Christmas I’m going to get you a boomerang with my name on it. Sorry. You guys are the best people in the whole wide world and when you come to get me, beams of light will descend from heaven and choirs of angels will be singing the Hallelujah Chorus.)

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. vtgrandview says:

    It IS a good decision Anna….you know it is just as I know it is, and anyone who knows you and cares deeply for you, knows it is.

    Vermont awaits you. I will dust off your mud boots, wash your barn coat, buy you a pair of work gloves, and give you our sheep book to brush up on lambing. It will be a joy to have you by my side in the barn again. I believe the last time you were here for lambing, you held the ewe and whispered calming words to her while I pulled her breech lamb-entering the world with back feet first instead of head first. I will never forget your words to me that day as I pulled with all my strength to get the lamb out quickly so that the life giving umbilical cord did not get pinched, “You can do it mommy. I have faith in you.” And together, you and I got that backwards lamb out into the world and we named her “Faith”.

    You can do it Anna. You can do it. I have faith in you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      I remember that day vividly. That was a good day. =) Thanks Mommy! I’m so glad I get to be home for lambing again, and sugaring, and a real New England springtime.

      Like

  2. grannyandpoppy says:

    Anna, I hope I am there when you go to find your kitten! I want to go along.

    Like

    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      You’re totally invited. =)

      Like

  3. Sharon Pilgrim says:

    Follow your heart.

    Like

  4. mariertps says:

    *sends you grumpy-cat version of kitten* my contribute to your life. :}
    I wish I could say I totally understood, but somehow I feel like this time around that would seem a little boastful on my part. The most I can offer is that I’ve strongly considered pulling out of college now (because I don’t NEED to become an English teacher) and letting my siblings have a chance at college, because I feel like I’ve gotten more than what was deserved to begin with. Except that I’m still going at it and you are pulling out.
    But.
    I love you as much as possible to make up for the lack of understanding, and maybe if your time frees up some when the craziness dies down you can come visit… or I can come visit you… and I can fall prostrate in the glory of my TPS “idol” and bask.
    And I’m praying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      Marie, you are fabulous.
      I honestly have no idea how I ended up with such a TPS reputation. It baffles me. Like. I’m less shy now, but at the time, I was pretty painfully shy, as well as being super introverted. How did you people even find out I existed? =P
      Thank you very, very much for your prayers and hugs and love. They mean a whole lot. =) You’re great.

      Like

      1. mariertps says:

        I think if you were painfully shy it was partially what appealed to me, because I was and still am and always will be too scared to even ask for food at a fast food place. That and you are smart and generally loveable. ;D
        You’re pretty great yourself.

        Like

        1. AnnaEstelle says:

          Aww. You’re nice. Shy people unite. =)

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Elle says:

    I can’t say I understand your shoes at all, but I can try to imagine how difficult this decision must be, and I will be praying for you. *hugs*

    Like

    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      Thank you, dear. I appreciate that deeply.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. RP says:

    Stumbled across your blog via Jenny Dolfen’s site. Good luck with your writing! I won’t be the first person to note that you’ve obviously got ability.

    For what it’s worth, if you end up looking at a degree again, you might consider a school such as the Catholic University of America. From a quick perusal of your grad school posts, it seems like one of the major frustrations you had was the implicit unfriendliness towards Christianity/belief in a higher power. The English program at CUA is, I’ve been told, both fairly rigorous and friendly to the Faith. (As you might expect.)

    As for whether the program of studies would be of interest to you, obviously, I cannot judge, but they seem to have good breadth.

    All this just FYI. Whatever happens, good luck!

    Like

    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, RP! And thank you so much for your encouragement and suggestions. You’re right – I was most frustrated by the lack of faith, and the lack of the wonder and reverence a Christian perspective brings to academia. I’ll certainly keep the CUA in mind – thank you!

      Like

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