Pursuit of happiness
MSM Class of 2015
(9/2016) One afternoon last November, I walked to the pool with tears in my eyes. I had received my third rejection letter in two weeks and I was losing hope fast. I sobbed into the arms of a trusted ARCC employee as I let my worries fly. I am not good enough. I am not smart enough. My degree didnít prepare me for another job. I will never be
successful in the real world. What will I do without swimming, or grades even, to tell me when I am doing well? She reminded me that I was well-respected, regarded as highly capable, and the president of the student athlete committee. "If you donít get in anywhere, itís a loss for the whole profession, if you ask me," she told me. That calmed me for a day or so, until I
remember that along with the rest of the Class of 2016, I was hurtling toward graduation day without a plan. The days were speeding up, the Ott House nights were plentiful, but the job opportunities and graduate school seats were few and far between.
It was a pretty low point for me and for many other of my classmates, and I am sure that every class before me, going all the way back to 1808, can attest to the experience.
The denial letters continued to roll in and I was forced to abandon my dream for the time being. I had it in my head that the only way to measure my success was by getting a masterís degree, so I started applying to other programs.
In late April I was accepted to a graduate program in gerontology and things started to turn around. As I write this, my fall semester is beginning and things are certainly looking up. However, I still have a sincere goal that I have yet to achieve.
My goal is to be okay with where I am at in my life and career. I do not have a "big girl job" lined up for the fall, and I am working on accepting that as what it is. I am taking time for myself. I worked my summer job, as I have done every summer since I was 13. This fall, I am going to Norway as a graduation present. I am going to celebrate the fact
that I graduated college, a feat that many people do not accomplish, and when I come back, I will look for a job.
As of now, I still intend on becoming an occupational therapist. Getting into an OT school is part of my career plan; however, it is not part of my plan to be happy. I am recognizing that school and grades are not what I need to define myself as successful.
I am going to try my hardest to create other ways to measure success. Of course I will no longer get the rigorous daily workouts that swimming provided, with that exhausted-yet-proud walk from the ARCC to Patriot Hall every morning and afternoon. But, I am still going to compete. I havenít found what it is that I will do, but my backyard wiffleball and
volleyball games are getting far too intense for me to keep playing.
Physically, I am going to drink plenty of water, eat right, and shoot for those elusive eight hours of sleep every night. Mentally, I am going to recognize the mean things that I say to myself and work to counter them by celebrating the positive things I have done. Career-wise, I am going to put forth all of my effort into getting into an Occupational
Therapy program. And whether or not I get in, I am going to be proud of myself and recognize that my career will not define me as long as I do what I love.
The past year has been an absolute whirlwind for me, and I know that for the current Mount seniors it is only beginning. Having just been through the most emotional year of my life, I wanted to end this article with a little reminder for the Mountís next graduating class.
To the Class of 2017: It is okay that you do not have a job lined up. It is okay that you know someone who does, or someone who got a full ride to grad school, or someone who is staying at the Mount forever, getting their masterís, and then working there too (because who honestly wants to leave?). It is okay that all of a sudden, you do not think that
you are capable of what you want to do, because the adults have let me in on a little secret: sometimes, they donít feel capable eitheróand a lot of them have been working for years! It is okay that you still feel like a kid, because everyone still feels like a kid. And it is okay that you will no longer be getting grades, because teachers should have been teaching us all
along how to judge our worth on who we are and what people think of us rather than the numbers they use to rank us. I wish you the best of luck, and if you ever feel like you are not enough, just remember: you are doing the best you can. No one can ask for more than that.
Read other articles by Katie Powell