Guys. This is long. Like, 2000 words long. But, I needed to write this all out for me. I understand if your eyes glaze over and you’d rather skip this and come back another time. Thanks for being patient while my blog went MIA and I worked on this novel.
I did the whole college thing by the book: I graduated high school, got accepted to several colleges, accepted a scholarship from my school of choice, and moved to a new state to start a new chapter of my life. I chose a major that I enjoyed–history–without giving much thought to what I would actually DO with that degree. I was originally going to go into teaching and then dropped that in favor of doing an extended History degree, complete with an honors thesis.
I graduated after four years, right on schedule, with honors from the History Department, as well as the University. I had broken up with my long-term boyfriend early in the school year, and suddenly faced with singledom and entering the “real world” –with a pretty useless degree (let’s be honest)– I took the next logical step: Grad school.
I accepted a spot and Teaching Assistant-ship at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and moved even FURTHER away from my family and friends. I had started another new chapter of my life, yet again, all alone. I had picked a school far away, not because it held a degree I wanted, or I was interested in moving to Charlotte, but because I needed to get as far away from things as possible. I had to assert my independence. I couldn’t move back home and just find a job. I needed a career. And in order to have a career doing something with history, I had to go to grad school.
Moving to Charlotte was the catalyst that really kickstarted my love affair with running. I had run consistently since my sophmore year in college, but while in grad school at UNCC, my running picked up steam, but not in a good way (at least at first). I started running at least 5 miles a day and lifting weights on my non-running days. I was digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole of really unhealthy habits. I limited what I ate (even though I was burning through those calories), and almost completely isolated myself by locking myself in either my office, the library, or my bedroom. If I wasn’t in class, I was either running, studying, or laying in bed watching TV.
I found myself having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, and distinctly remember calling my mom and telling her I couldn’t do it. She gave me what I needed to hear at the time–That it was OKAY to not continue the path I was on. After I had made the decision to leave Charlotte and the graduate program, I felt a little bit of relief. I found health living and running blogs and realized what I was doing to myself. I stopped running obsessively, but ran to free myself from the other constraints and expectations I had placed on myself. I started eating well. I was grocery shopping with purpose–buying good food and good fuel for myself.
After finals in December, I packed up my room, picked my Dad up from the airport, and we started the lengthy drive back to California. I moved back in with my parents, found a full time job, and started thinking about my next step.
I kept up my running, but in a much healthier way. I ran in the mornings before work and enjoyed the moments of peace and silence before the beginning of yet another busy day. Running became a way for me to heal myself. I was still having trouble with the foods I was allowing myself to eat, but I was spending time with old friends, planning a European backpacking trip with my best friend, and was on my way to becoming happy again. I had abandoned a plan I didn’t feel was right for me and was slowly becoming me again.
I chose to come back to Flagstaff and NAU for another shot at my master’s. I had settled on the idea of pursuing a degree in Public History and working in a library, archive, or museum. During my first semester back in grad school, I started training for my first marathon. Running became my escape from the stress and frustration of grad school. It turns out, this second master’s wasn’t much better than the first. I was back in a place I was familiar with and had friends around to hang with, but I wasn’t enjoying what I was studying. It felt like a necessary step I had to take to pursue in order to do what I wanted to do. The kicker with that, however, was that I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. I figured that a career path in museums was something I could do.
I trained for my first marathon while I was in grad school. It felt like a real goal I could achieve and one that would make me proud. Which caused me then to wonder, Why didn’t I feel that way about grad school? I never saw obtaining my Master’s as a real accomplishment–it was just something I had to do.
My second to last semester at NAU, I began an internship with the library in it’s Special Collections and Archives. I enjoyed what I was doing, and thought “yeah. I can make a life of this.” I had decided that when I graduated in December of 2012, I’d move away from Flagstaff and start pursuing this career. Well… that went to the pits when I met Jeff in June. Just a few months after we started dating, I knew I’d be staying in Flag in order to see where this relationship could go.
Meanwhile, I continued onward with my graduate degree, all the while becoming more and more disillusioned and disgruntled. I wasn’t enjoying myself at all. The classes I was TAing for, as well as the classes I took, were uninteresting to me. I looked at my classmates and felt like I was missing something. Why wasn’t I as excited as they were? I figured it was because I wanted to be in the public domain, and they were largely pursuing academic careers.
I, again, turned to running. During the three semesters I was at NAU for my graduate degree, I trained for and ran 2 marathons. Those weeks of training, the long runs, and the success of crossing the finish line were the real accomplishments to me. To me, 2012 isn’t the year I graduated with my Master’s. It’s the I met Jeff, ran 2 marathons, climbed to the top of Mt. Whitney–all while finishing up school.
My accomplishments began to shift focus–I didn’t find it in my grades or how my teachers thought about me and my work. I began to see it on the pavement, the way my body changed and got stronger, and the way my paces faster than I imagined they ever would.
After graduating, and deciding to stay in Flagstaff, I found myself a job. It had nothing to do with the degrees I had worked to earn. It had no future. But, it paid the bills and allowed me to continue running, while learning about health, nutrition and how to fuel myself to improve my running.
For a while now, I’ve questioned whether I belonged in the history field. The jobs I wanted all required yet another master’s degree, and I wondered if that was really what I wanted to do. I talked to Jeff about getting a degree in nutrition, or maybe becoming a personal trainer. I rarely talked about finding a job in “my field”. I chalked a lot of that up to the fact that we live in a small town with limited options. But really, I think I had checked out. If I had really wanted it, I would have made it happen.
I’m not somebody that sits on their hands and waits for things to come to them. I worked hard at school and earned myself a full ride for grad school. I ran a marathon, and then another, and then another until I achieved a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. If I had wanted to be in the archival field, I’d have made that happen. I had opportunities, connections I could have utilized, but instead I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted–and that was run.
In January, I decided that enough was enough and I was going to take the next logical step in order to begin this elusive career…a second Master’s in Library Science. I applied, and was accepted, to the University of Arizona’s SIRLS program and was due to begin yesterday, August 24th.
Two weeks before the first day of school, I deferred my admission.
I can sit here and spew some more about the multitude of other reasons I came up with not to follow through with this degree, but the bottom line is this: I didn’t want to do it and that was good enough for me.
In May, I left my job at an art gallery and started working in a doctor’s office and it’s solidified it for me: I want to be in the medical field. When I deferred from my classes my first thought was going into nutrition to become an RD. I researched, picked my brother’s girlfriend’s mind (she’s an RD) and started looking at programs, schools, etc. Then I thought about nursing. I’ve had many people tell me many times I’d make a great nurse, but I always wrote it off because I was “squeamish”. Well, let’s just say I’m putting that to the test.
I’m not sure of my path just yet. But, I am registered for a biology class this semester. I’m going to start taking prereq’s I’ll need for both career paths and figure it out as I go.
What does all that mean for my training and this little blogspace? I honestly have no idea. I love the community that I’ve found here–and would like to continue to be a part of it, but whether that’s through my own blog, I’m not entirely sure. I guess I’ll see what I have time for.
As for training….running will always be a part of my life. Always. I’m just not sure how training is going to translate into a new world of school + working full time. I’m planning on continuing forward with marathon training this fall and get that 3:30 in February, but if it proves to be too overwhelming and too much, I’ll reconsider.
I’m really excited about making this leap and pursuing something I’m really excited about. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
If you made it this far, thanks for sticking through that! Yikes. Four gold stars for you.