Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Creative Vampires

It's been over a week since I submitted my application to King's College London and, because I am wont to do such things, I have begun to worry about what exactly I submitted. Doubt starts small and builds and suddenly, it occurred to me one day last week that, while I may not have made a mistake on the level of John Travolta (poor guy), I certainly spelled King's as Kings' in the personal statement section of my application.

Now this begins to show the level of ridiculousness I'm at. Because I can't worry about whether or not I have a quality application or whether or not my ideas and writing are good enough to get me into grad school as I have no control over that, I instead worry about the things I do - or did - have control over. It is perfectly like my overachiever mentality to be convinced that a misspelling like that will utterly ruin my chance. And while there is a possibility that it may, my mindset assures me of it.

It doesn't help that, until recently, I only knew one person who had been accepted to grad school this next fall (now I know two or three). It would behoove me here to be honest and admit this than hide it: I am terrified and afraid.

While in London this January, my friend Tyler shared with me a song from the musical Title of Show called "Die Vampire, Die." As per the title, this song deals with vampires - but not the typical blood-sucking kind.

Rarely have I found a piece of music that so perfectly enraptures my creative fears and mindsets. Not only have I experienced every one of those pygmy vampires (do you know how many times I've worried my attendance to a state university in the U.S. rather than a private one is a disadvantage? Do you know how many times I've thought "Shakespeare already did that?") but the vampire of despair could be my evil twin. I have often felt that I am at battle against something (which perhaps explains my love for stories that do deal with battles) and it's fatiguing to see that it's all in one's mind.

I'd done quite well since London putting aside my vampires. I plowed through my application and had more motivation than I'd had since... well, in a long time. But then, with it finished, I felt my motivation slip away and a bought of low energy appear. While I longed for winter to stay on as it had been kind to me, I felt my winter blues that usually come in January appear with the latest round of cold winter. I was becoming desperate for spring to come and to run again. I began dreaming about London - and most painfully, dreaming of running in London. It was wonderful and painful at the same time. I began to wonder how I could be homesick for a place I had never lived. I'd felt like this before, after visiting Scotland three years ago, but this time it was so much worse, knowing I actually have a chance - as faint as it might be - of moving there.

Fortunately for me, the weather has warmed up, I was able to start running again this past weekend, and I'm slowly, slowly, feeling my motivation return, at least for my personal writing. My parents also brought me along to mass on Sunday and, forgetting how much I enjoy Lenten services, found it comforting and touching. The priest at the church we attend in Minneapolis also has the uncanny ability to write beautiful homilies about issues I am literally thinking about the day before and, while I don't attend mass often, always find it to be amazing and poignant when I do and he is presiding. While I may not always be the most pious, it's nice to recall my spiritual nature and dwell in that, especially in times of stress.

It also helps to admit I'm afraid. Instead of hiding the fear, it's good to accept that I do feel it. Everyone is so excited for me and hoping that I'll get accepted, and while I don't want to mar their joy for me with my own uncertainty, I also want to stay level-headed about this. I don't want to pin all my hopes on this - though who am I kidding, I already have - only to have it not come through. I suppose this is no time to be humble but if pride overtakes me, it'll make it all the harder if I am rejected.

A great deal of this revolves around the fact that I feel utterly unworthy. While I might have been able to prove my worthiness in my application, it's a far different affair in my mind. When I see those who have been rejected and know that they are just as talented and capable as I am, generally much more so, or those who have far greater struggles than I do and deserve great opportunities and luck so much more, I struggle to understand how I can be worthy. I have often felt I will never be good enough for a variety of things and it has been and will always be a life-long struggle. I have been so lucky in 2014, especially in a world that seems to think that this year is off to a rough start, and I am worried my luck is going to run out. You can't always get what you want, so why would I get this?

But why wouldn't I?

It's the mentality I have to keep so that I don't get drained by the vampire of despair. While my stomach remains knotted up over a piece of paper and I worry that if I continue working in retail, I will turn into a diabolical maniac, I need to keep in mind that my chances are not shot over a misplaced apostrophe and that if that guy who taught me statistics got in to a doctoral program, so can I.

Worrying about the future, however, is something that I'm especially good at. While I like uncertainty and surprises, I'd also really love a nice little plan of my life in a diary or planner somewhere, maybe with text messages and phone notifications too so that I know if and when certain things are going to happen. Even semi-vague notifications would be nice. Like if fortune cookies weren't a mass produced commodity.

I like this fortune.

A great deal of this concern comes from not being totally convinced on my plan B. Partly because my plan B revolves around moving back to the suburbs and working retail for another year (when I promised myself I would not make myself work another Christmas season). My plan B isn't the most exciting option and I'm afraid that I'll be lonely. It's bizarre for me to think that living and being lonely in a foreign country is somehow less offsetting in than being lonely in a place that should be home, but that's a big part of my current concern. And I also definitely left part of my soul in Regent's Park (as well as other places in London) and I'd really like it back.


(And does spring really look like this in Regent's Park? Because if it does, I'm going to cry.)

The problem with luck and opportunity is that they do little to neutralize the negative voices in your head. For a while, they fall silent and you have a blissful period of joy. But all too soon those vampires come storming back and the fight begins all over. I knew this would occur but, each time a new chance or success comes my way, I hope those vampires will be gone for good. They never do, but I'll keep up the working of slaying as many as I can.

And so it's back to business as usual and trying to occupy my mind with things that are NOT related to my application. The good news is that it's leading me to try and finding something interesting and academic to fill its place, which might be good for this blog - I sort of feel like I've strayed away from my long, academic-y posts and I miss them. So maybe I'll dig into that and remind myself that I can be clever and creative and that those bloody vampires need to die.

Especially the sparkly ones.


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