To Know One’s Self


I am a horrible judge of my own abilities.  I’ve been wanting to write this posts for days, but couldn’t focus long enough to sit in front of the screen.  I’ve been going in circles, trying to figure out what I’m going to do in September.  I’ve been obsessing over my grad school plans again.  I somehow got it in my head that I could go to a top tier school.  I have no idea where that came from.  I never applied there for undergrad because I didn’t think I was anywhere near the level I needed to be for it.  On paper, I looked perfect.  Top of my class, 2 years of junior college down before I even graduated high school.  School awards every year.  But somehow I felt like it didn’t mean anything.  I knew I was just a big fish in a small town. That I could never live up to the standards that the top engineering schools demanded. Again I think it stems from my absolute fear of failure.

So I went to a good Tier 2 school.  One that my mom went to, so I guess I figured if she could do it, I could.  I was offered a full scholarship at the state school but turned it down.  I knew the name brand of the tier 2 school would mean more, and maybe it has.  I doubt I would have the job I do now without it. Problem was, I don’t think I fit in there the way I was supposed to.  I cried everyday for 2 years, think I made a horrible mistake refusing the state school’s offer.  I was alone, commuting 2 hours eveyday to school and home.  I never formed the relationships or developed the social skills I needed to survive in life.  I was probably a much better fit for the Ivy leagues, where I could have lost myself in schoolwork.

I always felt lost at the tier 2 school.  I was lucky to have an adviser who saw some potential in me.  The problem was I never saw it in myself.  I was constantly struggling, against schoolwork, against research, never fully understanding what I was doing.  I was just trying to scrape by and be done with it.  I wish I had the ambition I do now.  I won’t feel like I wasted my time there.  That I could have had more focus and worked harder and kept in touch with those that could help me now.

So with that, I’m still want to go back to grad school.  I must be crazy.  I have the perfect plan to go to the state school that I turned down.  I’ll start a certificate program in the area I want in the fall.  I’ll meet the people I could do research with.  I’ll get a recommendation from the professor so I’ll almost be guaranteed a place there when I apply.  Credit wise, I can be done in a few years, with the certificate courses counting as the bulk of the coursework.  I can get my work to pay for it, since I’ll have a plan and a timeline and contacts at the school.  And I’m fairly confidant if I work as hard as I did before, I would do well there.  It’s perfect.

That was the plan, but then my stupid brain kicks in.  My employer is associated with the Ivy league school, so alot of employees have gone there for classes.  I’ve talked to my supervisor and the Boy about going back to school.  Both think I should go to the Ivy league. This is where my problem of self assessment comes in.  I don’t know if I am even capable of doing the work.  To the outside world, I look like an intelligent person.  That going to this school is just a natural course of action.  But I don’t think these people even know me now, although they know my history and work the best.  If anyone could judge my abilities right now it’s them.  They think I’d be selling myself short by going to the state school.

I took the GRE last week and did OK.  OK enough to actually consider applying to the Ivy.  Again, on paper I look good enough that I actually have a chance at being accepted.  Then again, I may be delusional and just spin the facts to suit the outcome I want.

Now that I’m considering other schools, my plan has been blown apart.  I’ve been working on this for a year and now I feel completely lost.  I know to help my chances to get accepted, I’d have to take classes before applying. That way at least I’ll have something to count towards my degree and hopefully do well enough to get someone to write a recommendation for when I do apply.  But then I don’t know if work will pay for it.  I have no planned coursework, no potential advisor, and an even smaller chance of being accepted. (From a historical perspective, people have gone back to school with their previous advisors, and thesis plans well in place when asking for funding.  I won’t have that).

So I’m stuck.  Do I take a chance and try to take classes at the Ivy or do I stick with the original plan and just start with the state school in the fall?  admittedly, I’m in a much better position mentally than when I was in undergrad (and even when I started this blog 2 years ago).  Self confidence is tall a major issue and I can’t see my abilities objectively enough to figure out if I’m even capable of the work.  There are hundreds of other people trying to do the same thing I am, and I don’t know if I’m better than them, or deserve it more than them.  So until I hit some big revelation, I’m just going to spin my wheels.  At least, until the application deadline rolls around.

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