I’ve had the feeling that the news would arrive today. Therefore, I have been avoiding my school inbox all day. I finally decided to be responsible to check it because I am also waiting for a manuscript I’m copy editing that was supposed to come last night and still wasn’t there this morning and I really need to get working on that. As I feared, at the top of my inbox was an email from my adviser, subject: “Manuscript Response.” Nothing in the subject or the body of the email that gmail previews gives me any clue as to whether or not I’ve passed. Until I open that email and read her full response, I have simultaneously passed and failed my graduate degree. As long as I wait, as long as I don’t open that email, I can go on believing that I’ve passed and I can hold onto hope. But also, not knowing, not opening that email, holds me in a place of limbo. Once I open that email, I will be forced to act in one way or another. Once I open that email, I will know if my manuscript passed and I will know what I need to do next. Either way, it’s going to be a difficult road.
If I passed, then I will finish out this semester. I will finish my lengthy and emotionally raw Process Paper and the last bits of graduation paperwork. I will go to Vermont in January and I will receive a document stating my completion of a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I will no longer be a student. I will once again have to figure out what to do with my life, what my next step will be. I haven’t had time to properly study for the GRE, so I won’t be starting a new program in the fall as I had hoped. My manuscript, even passed, is no where near publishable, so I can’t jump into the world of being a full-time writer. It’s completely open and it terrifies me. I am a person who loves plans. Everything is a plan. But I don’t have a plan for when I finish this program.
If I failed, then I will be looking at an extension or a sixth semester. I am exhausted. As much as I love Goddard, I can’t push myself through another semester in this program and with all the work I’ve done this semester, I don’t see how any revisions I have left could require another full semester, not to mention all the paperwork I would have to repeat and the additional annotations I would have to do (I already had to do 3 more annotations than required to graduate by taking a fifth semester). The only bonus of doing a full semester rather than an extension is that I am already cleared for a student loan to cover the semester while I would have to pay for an extension out of pocket. Which brings us to the issue of an extension. It’s a few thousand dollars that I absolutely do not have (I’m a starving artist on top of being a student; money’s a thing I kinda remember having in another life). They do payment plans and I might be able to borrow the money elsewhere, but it will be tight no matter what I do. An extension would also push of graduation. Summer is a nice time for graduation, but all my friends will have graduated by then. I was really looking forward to a January graduation because the last two holdouts from my original group that arrive January three years ago will be graduating then and I wanted to be able to walk with them.
As long as I don’t open the box, I don’t know. I don’t have to move forward on one of these paths. I can sit here in limbo and hope for an outcome and try to come up with more plans for either one, but it’s safer. I have never been more afraid to open a box.