One final hurrah

I have one more semester left as an undergraduate. One. Just one. So that's weird. In a few more months, this will be me once again:

Add a few bangs, take away the nose cast, and there it is.

And after that? The dream plan involves a summer internship, grad school at one of my dream schools in New York City or Chicago (technically Evanston, but let's call it Chicago just for fun) and then a job.

At this exact moment in time, though, I have no idea what's going to happen. It is possible I won't get an internship. It's possible I won't get into grad school. I'm planning on sending my novel to agents--maybe one of them will like it and we'll sign a contract. By this time next year, I could be an almost-published author. Or maybe once I send my poems and short stories out, someone will accept them.

The point is, anything could happen. The world could shift on its axis and all of my plans could flip flop. For the first time in my life, I'm standing at a true cliff, and I don't know if a bridge will magically appear to the other side, or if I'll have to fling myself into the air and hope for the best. As scared as I am by that prospect, I'm also totally excited. I don't know what is going to happen in the future.

All I know right now is that I'm taking exams next week, going to Italy next Friday, and finishing college in May 2015. These are the certainties--well, as certain as anything can get in this world. I'm very excited, though, that I don't have any definite plans right now.

Don't get me wrong: if some plans came my way, I would snatch them out of the air so fast I can't even think of an apt metaphor for them. In the meantime, I'm choosing to embrace the lack of plans. I'm choosing to live one day at a time. I choose to apply for internships and grad schools. I choose to work on my novels and attempt to get them published, as well as my poems and short stories. I choose to believe that whatever comes is going to be brilliant. And I choose to enjoy this final semester of college.

No matter where I am, I know nothing will be anything like the four years I'll have spent at Asbury. Some experiences will be better; some will be worse; none will be the same. I'm going to embrace every second of this crazy ride and love my friends as wildly as I can. I'm going to live in the moment and, when graduation comes, I'm going to step into the unknown with a smile.

It's going to be great. My words to the future are: "I've got a blank space, baby, and I'll write your name." (I also really love Taylor Swift. I felt like that should be mentioned).

Bring it on.

Where dreams become nightmares

I've been writing grad school application essays. I've been begging people to write reference letters and send them to said grad schools as well as various newspapers offering internships. I've been in a constant state of flurry, stress and agony about the future. These are the things I've been dreaming about for the past few years. Getting a great internship somewhere--the New York Times, maybe? A girl can dream--going to grad school, living in New York as a journalist/novelist/world traveler. And with every second that passes I get closer to reality and my dreams start to feel like nightmares.

They haunt me wherever I go. I wake up thinking about grad school; I go to bed wondering if I'll get an internship; as I walk to class, I pretend I'm walking the streets of New York City in a business suit and stylish pumps on my way to my newspaper job. They're dreams that are starting to become nightmares.

I've spent my whole life wanting nothing more than to be a writer. I want to write novels; I want to write articles; I want to write documentaries, memoirs, news segments, poems...I want to put my fingers to the keys and tap until brilliance pours out. I want these things so badly that my heart squeezes inside my chest and I start to shake.

The problem with all these dreams is that real life has a hard time intruding. I have a paper due next Thursday that I have barely thought about because I'm in the middle of writing a novel. I have a documentary to shoot and edit that I can't focus on because I'm sitting on tenterhooks waiting for The New York Times to tell me that dreams come true and I've got an interview. I have a book to read for class that I haven't looked at because my mind is consumed with thoughts of the grad school essays I'm eking out.

I have all these dreams that cloud my thoughts and when I go to sleep at night they become nightmares. The internship turns into a summer working at a discount store barely making minimum wage. Grad school becomes another nine months in Columbia just getting by. My future in New York warps into an unrecognizable slew of years in a Southern village driving my minivan to doctors' appointments and church potlucks.

And there's nothing wrong with those things. To some people, those are the dream. To me, though? They are the nightmare.

I want to be a writer.

I fear I'll be nothing more than a wanna-be writer who has stacks of novel manuscripts that never made their way to an agent, a publisher, an audience.

But I'm not going to let that happen. I will fight. No matter where I end up. If the internship becomes a retail job, I will write my novel. If grad school becomes nine months of a retail job, I will write articles and blog posts and re-apply. If my New York future becomes minivans and church potlucks, I will write stories about them and fight to have them published.

I will not let the nightmares come true. It will be the dreams, and that is that