- One of those kids whose graduating GPA was over 4.0 and still did extra credit work.
- One of those kids who hated bad grades worse than anything else.
- One of those kids who never dated much or partied much or anything else in high school much partially because of my schoolwork. (Also, in all fairness, partially due to the fact that I was not really asked much.)
- One of those kids who stayed after school and hung out with teachers.
- One of those kids who did extra reading.
- One of those kids who was always two pages over the page the limit for papers.
- One of those kids who really enjoyed every minute of school.
In fact, I was one of those kids before I even began school. I know a little girl who has always been a "baby doll girl." You could give her the choice of any toy in the universe and she would choose a baby any day of the week. Without hesitation. My cousin was a "Barbie" girl. We had Barbies coming out of our ears. My own daughter is a "dress up" kind of girl. Although she seems to be moving away from it ever so slightly, even when she plays with other toys, she's typically doing it dolled up as a nurse or a ballerina or Snow White.
I tried really hard to remember what kind of kid I was. I had baby dolls and I loved them, but I didn't obsess over them. I played dress up with my grandma's old clothes from the 50's and my mom's old bridesmaid dresses, but not all that much. I played Barbies, but mostly only when my cousin was around. I remember myself mostly as a "book" kind of girl. Given a book and a corner, decent light and preferably some lemonade I was good to go. Possibly for the whole day. But what did I love to play? The only thing I really remember loving to play was school. I loved playing school. Sometimes I was the teacher, sometimes I was the student, but I loved the whole deal. The desk, the books, the paper and pencils and rules and reading and writing and yes, even rithmatic.
So, it's no wonder that I became one of those kids. One of the kids that everyone hates in high school because of how hard they work. I tried to be pretty low profile in my hard work. Often finishing up in home room, so it would look like I had done my homework completely there. Sometimes researching for weeks and writing a paper the night before it was due, just so I could say, "Oh, I wrote it last night." Those who were more open with their over-achievereyness were met with my withering gaze and derisive tone.
In my off-time, I was on the Academic Team (yeah, really), the speech team (I know) and involved in every play our school performed. I read compulsively and had finished off large chunks of our school library by graduation. I did normal high school kid stuff, like go to movies, sit for hours in coffee shops and eat too much pizza. I had slumber parties and went to at least one school dance. I loved sporting events and went to a ton of football and basketball games. Although I paid very little attention to the people in uniforms playing the games.
I went to college with stars in my eyes and love in my heart. I immediately loved everything about college. Okay, I went a little crazy and I did a lot more dating and partying. I also did a lot more discussing books and movies and politics and religion until three a.m. and a lot more analyzing anything that would stand still.
I still wrote my papers too long, unless I thought I'd get a lower grade for it. And I still worked hard and pretended I didn't. It took some adjustment. My grades were lower in college than in high school because it's harder to look like you don't care while caring desperately.
When graduation time came, I was stymied by what next. I wanted to go to grad school. I really wanted to go to grad school. More than I wanted to continue breathing. But I had no direction. No focus. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. In the meantime, I had a wedding to plan and a life to live and the simplest solution seemed to be to just graduate. Work for a while. Find my passion.
I lucked into nonprofit. And I've been happy here. I love feeling like what I do matters. More than revenue streams or economic impact, but real impact. On people. On lives.
But I've continued to feel torn about the grad school decision. I still don't know quite what I want to be when I grow up and more and more I feel like it doesn't matter. Like people just end up doing things that they never intended to do and that's the way of the world.
Last night, I wrote a paper. For the fun. On Shakespeare. I reread one of my favorite works and wrote a position statement about it. And I remembered my love. My first love.
I loved writing that. I was frustrated by it and challenged by it and I had so much fun I nearly cried.
I've been thinking pretty seriously about going back for a library science degree. I've been thinking about studying with a focus on children. I've been thinking about the impact I could make. Teaching kids to read. Teaching kids to love to read. Helping with homework and suggesting books. Making books real for kids who can't see past the paper. I've been thinking about investing a lot of money to make almost the exact same amount I make now. I've been thinking about kids and books and classics and teen reading groups and summer reading camps and arts and crafts and silly songs and biographies for kids and the unfettered joy of a fresh new book.
At first, I was thrilled last night to discover that I still love playing school. That I still love writing the papers and researching and critically thinking. But then I began to realize something scary. Something disturbing. What if that's my passion? Not books or literature or teaching or inspiring, but being a student? What if I just want to go back to school because I want to be in school? What if this is going to be my whole life? Feeling unfulfilled unless I'm studying.
I don't know where I go from here. I don't know if this is just more of the same kind of doubt about whether or not to make a move. Or if this is something I should pay attention to.
All I know is that last night was one of my best nights in a long time.