Getting Into School

(I can't write this without coming off privileged, but it's the life I've had.)

When I got into college, it was exciting, but it was basically a relief. It was something that had been built up over years and ultimately, because I applied early, I was just hoping I got in so I didn't have to apply to a bunch more schools. Our housekeeper called from our house to say there was a "large" package at home, and I delayed going home because I was so scared. Then I opened the envelope, and a map of Princeton fell out. And I knew I was in. 

I was kind of a middling high school student until the last two years, and so I was convinced I'd be rejected. I've always believed I was worse than I was. I called my parents (individually) and heard their pride, and it was a great moment, where success had not been inevitable but been achieved anyway.

There have been few moments that felt the same in my life.

***

When I got into my masters program (since I can no longer just say "grad school"), I was still living with my dad after Korea. I was actually coming back from my aunt's funeral, a sad experience where she had died far too young. I was sort of emotionally blank, and then I got the letter in the mail. It was nice, but I was in such a weird place that I didn't really get to think about it.

***

And then there was yesterday.

In January, I went to the open house for the Hunter EdD program, which lined up perfectly with my very specific goals (a part-time EdD program that was here in the city, reputable, and wouldn't explode my debt). I was told there that, after applying, we'd receive notification about interviews within a week. But it took two weeks, so when, at said interview, we were told we would find out our fates in the next two weeks, I assumed it might take three or four. That was Friday.

So when I got an email (21st century!) saying the result was available on the website (and I scrambled to figure out my password), I was shocked it had happened so quickly. And although I was still stressed, I can say honestly I didn't immediately think I would be receiving bad news. I never assumed success, but I wasn't full of fear. I was excited to read the news, and that could have been devastating - I really placed a lot on this emotionally - but it ended up being great.

I'm not the first in my extended family to attempt to acquire a doctorate - my great-uncle had a doctorate in education. My grandfather was an educator as well, and in a way I feel as though I am carrying on their tradition. But ultimately I'll be the first (that I'm directly related to) Dr. Gerald, and one day, I think I'll actually achieve the lofty dreams I've started to let myself really hope for in my career.

I've spent more than ten years fighting off guilt for running away from a financial career, and, before I met Alissa and got this much better current job, scowling when I saw classmates with outwardly impressive lives while I couldn't even afford a taxi home after a night out.

That's stupid, but it's the way I thought.

I think, finally, I can move on once and for all now. I think I can finally sit in my skin comfortably.

This is the last time I'll ever get into school (I hope, dear god I hope I don't do this again), and I think it's going to make all the difference.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality