In the service of ego

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I can’t say that I’ve come to any solid conclusions about the choice I face over whether or not to get another degree that I’ve been writing about for quite some time now. The only progress I’ve really made, if you can call it that, is that I’ve decided not to apply to any schools for this coming autumn. I still feel like I’m trying to get my legs under me, particularly as I face a number of new challenges this term (my first term teaching more than one class, my first time teaching an online class, and so on). It feels like right now the best thing I can do is to give myself time to adjust to this new load and determine whether or not I like it before I decide if I’m going to make any big decisions on my life. Thus far I definitely like having so many students to teach, although keeping my two in-person classes straight requires a bit of mental juggling I haven’t had to do before. (I’m teaching the same class, at the same time, in the same classroom, but on different days of the week.) Apart from the long commute to Monroe and back, which really isn’t much of an issue except for the high price of gas, I don’t really have any complaints so far.

Over the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve been thinking more and more about what my ultimate goals are if I decide to go get another degree. As much as it pains me to say this, I’m wondering how much my own ego is playing a role in all of this. I mean, most of the teachers at my private school made no secret of how they thought I’d either be dead or in prison by now, and I’d be lying if I said all those rejections to MFA schools I got back in 2004 didn’t still hurt me. Yes, I love writing (although it took me a while to reclaim that love after said rejections), and getting my MFA would enable me to really hone my writing skills and be able to teach creative writing to others, to say nothing of being able to apply for tenure-track positions at four-year colleges and universities. There is definitely a part of me, though, that I’ve come to realize just wants to get this degree — and maybe even more degrees after that — to prove some people wrong. I should forget all about those people because it isn’t healthy to hold on to this kind of resentment, but I can’t. I’m just going now based on my conscious feelings of wanting to soothe my own ego; subconsciously the problem is like many times worse than I’m aware of.

Although I don’t always show it, I am a smart person, and I’ve already proven myself capable of doing a tremendous number of things. As much as I try to deal with rejection and unconstructive criticism in a healthy way, there is still a part of me that hurts when I receive it or remember it. As much as I try to be humble and recognize my own place in the world, whenever I feel wronged or slighted, there is still a part of me that wants to strike back, to prove people wrong, even when I know that doing so will ultimately not do anyone any good, let alone myself. I know that I will never totally rid myself of those things, and so my decision about whether or not to go for my MFA (or, for that matter, a Ph.D in rhetoric/composition) will ultimately be based, at least in some small part, on those things. Right now, though, it feels like those things are playing a larger part in my decision-making process than they should, so it’s probably for the best that I take a while longer to think things through and see if things at MCCC continue to pan out as well as they have so far.

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