Should I Join the Circus? Thoughts on MFA

I have completed my first semester of grad school.

ice cream joy
Joy. This was taken by my friend K.D. whose poetry blog you can find by clicking on the picture.

Now I have more than a month to reconsider my decision to attend a program in the first place.

Not as much joy.
Not as much joy.

This time last year I was applying to programs, chewing my nails down to the quick, and considering quitting my retail job, growing a mustache, changing my name to “Augustino,” and joining the circus.

Augustino the Magnificent
Augustino the Magnificent

I still consider joining the circus on a daily basis. But I’m not quite yet ready to put on funny pants and fulfill my true destiny.

Note the manic eyes, the alcohol, the polka dots. This is my dream.

The fact is, it doesn’t matter whether I pursue the MFA or rub Rogaine on my upper lip and learn how to be a tiger whisperer, I would still be full of self-doubt and anxiety. That’s part and parcel to having generalized anxiety disorder (for some great writing about anxiety, head on over to¬†Highest Form of Whit, the blog of one of my fellow MFAers, and especially take a look at her “Daily Conversations with Anxiety” tag).

And self-doubt is, I believe, a part of being human. If you were sure of everything you did you’d never progress. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

I'm clearly destined for showbiz
I’m clearly destined for showbiz

Every writer has a theory of writing (I would say even people who don’t do creative writing have a theory of what creative writing is) and the beauty of the MFA is that I get to cherry pick from everyone else’s theories.

I’ve already learned new methods of revising and added to my lexicon of writerly jargon. I’ve seen myself write things I never expected. I have nebulous ideas for a one-woman show. It looks, from here, like anything is possible, even while I lament how trapped my financial and mental situations make me feel.

It does feel like being a little horned baby being stung by hornets, most of the time.

And it’s not necessarily the concrete things I’ve done in this or that class, it’s the community I get to be a part of. The way I approach my education may be a bit wonky and¬†idealistic. I’m going to come out of the MFA with some practical skills and a substantial piece of work (my thesis), but it’s not like there’s a job waiting for me at the end of this.

Then again, isn’t that why I have the circus?