This is going to be the frilliest, girliest, sweetest, cutie-patootiest post I’ve ever written, but I don’t care because you know why?
I PASSED MY MASTERS DEFENSE!!
And I’m going to go celebrate with some delicious Chinese food and then a big ole fat yummy cupcake made especially for me. Because food is the way to celebrate (in my world, at least)!
But before I go and indulge in the most bliss, savory, succulent, and sweetest gastronomical delights I’ve had all year, I just wanted to share some huge lessons I learned about being a graduate student, a writer, a business owner, and a person all at the same time.
The Genesis: I came to UW Madison on full scholarship, walking on clouds (because it’s an amazing program in a field that I love). Even so, at the time I was really unsure if this was the right and final destination for me. I knew in my heart that I was a writer, but I didn’t know (at that time, at least) how to monetize that into a living wage. So I took a “safer” route: research, PhD, free education. Plus I really like research and I’m good at it, so “why not?”, I said. “Plus there’s nothing stopping me from writing fiction, and PLUS I’ll get a marketable degree!” This was my justification for not pursuing my dream of being a full-time writer, and quite a good one it was. At that time, at least.
As much as one might have expected me to crash and burn due to not pursuing my true passion full-time, this actually turned out to be a great decision. It was a great decision, even when I cried so hard it hurt, even when I hated being here every second of my life, even when I was so depressed that I lost twenty pounds (that really woke me up to how much I hated Madison), even when my home life began to burn before my eyes… many people around me didn’t realize how hard this process was for me. I felt intellectually and socially out of place, among other things, and I also just couldn’t sink my teeth into the Ivory Tower the way that I felt I should have. Times were challenging, to say the least. But I don’t regret any of it. Why? How could all those terrible things I just listed actually have ANY upside to them? Well, check this out. While studying here I was also able to accomplish the following:
- Gain over three years of university-level teaching experience (teaching methods, statistics, and an intro sociology course),
- Experience sociological, statistical, and methodological training at the top institution in the world for the field of Sociology and Social Research… for FREE,
- Take other classes in French, Creative Writing, Film, and African American Literature to supplement my knowledge as a researcher and as a person,
- Get my Masters degree in Sociology & Social Research,
- Establish an actual business and a life mission that I love in the form of my multimedia production house, Rebel Ragdoll,
- Lay the creative foundation, create a world and characters, invent a language, design a really awesome complex plot, and write thousands of words for my first novel series, “The Books of Ezekiel”,
- Finish and publish my first novel and write 50% of the second novel,
- Contract my first licensing book,
- Learn how to flambé (YUP, this IS an accomplishment, lol!),
- Develop some serious emotional strength on top of that which I already had,
- Take two AMAZING backpacking trips across Europe (one of which is in four weeks, omg!),
- and way, WAY more.
Honestly, we gotta be grateful as much as we can for our experiences, even when they hurt. As clichéd as it sounds, when life throws you some fucked up lemons, you gotta squeeze those bitches and make your lemonade. But my tangible mini-victories were not the only things I got out of being here. I also learned some valuable life lessons, and since I’m about the quick bullet points today (because I need to get to my celebratory feast!), here’s a summary of what I really learned that changed my life forever:
- Do not EVER let anyone define who you are… even if you’re the only one in your category.
- Count your blessings, but don’t be afraid to expand your goals either!
- You can make anything work with dedication, belief in your ideas, and finding the right support.
- Branding is everything, and EVERY skill you have can be used to the advantage of your brand. I’m leaving here with a degree in social research, lots of analytical skills, and guess what? Luck has it that Hollywood needs TONS of researchers! 😉 (Can you say back door?)
- Resources are all around you. If you can’t find them, you need to look harder or merely open your eyes!
- Yes, you’re busy, but stay in touch with your friends and family. Keep your loved ones close!
- Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when something isn’t working for you or when you aren’t happy. There is more than one way to get what you want, and you don’t have to be rigid to get it!
- DON’T. GIVE. UP. HUSTLE. KEEP GETTING UP WHEN YOU GET KNOCKED DOWN. YOUR DREAM IS WORTH IT AND SO ARE YOU! 🙂
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a tantalizing Fish in Black Bean sauce with Rice meal and a sinful triple vanilla fudge cupcake waiting for me… don’t wait up, ya’ll. Teehee! I’ll be back with another writer-journey post soon, but in the meantime:
Keep it indie… and hey, write on, rock on too! 😉