Friday, September 14, 2012

Fifth-Life Crisis

To Fulbright, or not to Fulbright, that is the question.  No, but seriously, that has been the question mulling around in my mind for the past week.  And I think I've finally settled on an answer, going against every spontaneous keep-going-and-going bone in my body. 

What the hell am I talking about, you ask?  I'm sure you're scratching your head like a gorilla trying to figure out where this all came form, since I have never mentioned Fulbright before, and you haven't yet opened up a new tab and Googled it... Let me explain. 

So, I started work about 3 months ago at my incredibly fabulous job that I am somewhat mysterious about on social media.  And I started becoming friends with some of my coworkers.  This group of gals are all in their mid-late-twenties-early-thirties.  And they all have Masters degrees, or are currently in a Masters programs.  So here I am, 22 and in the "real world," struggling to fill out a Virginia tax form and be a "grown up" and suddenly I realize I'm behind the curve because I don't have my Masters and the most foreign travel I've done is go to Canada and the Bahamas, which are practically America anyways.  So, as you can imagine, the past week has been a scrambling fifth-life-crisis for me.  I had to get my game up.  I'm slacking with my life! 

After four feverish days of Googling grants, scholarships, fellowships, programs to travel and learn and be an apprentice, teaching English in foreign countries, contacting the Office of Prestigious Awards at my alma mater, and re-instating my goal to learn Arabic and Spanish and Swahili, last night resulted in my stuffing my face with chocolate and peanut butter cookies and rethinking the whole thing. 

Part of me wants to go and do everything.  I want to see the world, explore, teach, learn, change people's lives for the better, be a news reporter in the trenches of war, work for Cosmo magazine, work for the FBI, speak 16 languages, work in an embassy, travel, ride a camel, ride an elephant, zip line in Costa Rica, swim with sharks... you get the idea.  I want to do everything

So that's where this teaching-English-assistantship-Fulbright idea came along.  So I was all ready to gung-ho my At-Large application in 30 days and whip up some Spanish and get myself ready to move to Jordan in a year.  Except, I realized I had to write a proposal for the scholarship.  Not a will-you-marry-me-I-love-you-forever-and-want-to-grow-old-with-you-and-own-sixteen-cats proposal.  Like, a I-am-so-passionate-about-teaching-English-abroad-in-Jordan-because-of-this-reason proposal.  And I realized I just didn't have a competitive enough answer. 

Maybe I'm trying to make myself feel better, maybe I'm being logical (you can weigh in here if you'd like).  But I just moved to Washington, D.C. three months ago.  I work at an incredible job.  Yes, I'm on a contract and yes I could be job-less come next June, but I'm telling myself that's a slim possibility.  I work at an educational institution.  Not just any educational institution.  I work for a graduate-level military-based internationally-infused university.  Literally, everyone over the age of 40 in my office has a PhD.  I can walk down the hall and find an expert on terrorism, an expert on war and conflict, an expert on the terrorism-crime nexus, an expert on nuclear physics, an expert on FARC, a whole center full of experts on Central and South America... seriously, the list goes on.  I have access to language programs, and not only that, but should I learn Arabic, I can speak to the expert on Islam in Arabic

And here-in lies my dilemma.  If I rush to complete this application, I don't know what I want to do, exactly.  And my reason for choosing Jordan is because the program won't send fellows to Iran, or Afghanistan, or any of the cool and dangerous and exciting countries.  (I may or may not be slightly deranged and crazy.) 

So my alternative option is to take this next year, save up money, learn, take advantage of all the education and new-ness around me, actually learn Spanish, explore more options of what I want to study in the future, and apply next fall, for 2014.  Which would give me two years of experience in my current position, and a lot more time to explore my future options and direction.  Half of me feels like I'm going to fall behind if I don't keep pushing to the "next" level, but the other half of me feels like you can't keep a car running in the rain if you don't have windsheild wipers.  (Wow, that was probably the most horrible analogy I've every made.)  But, you get what I mean...


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