Monday, August 18, 2003

08/18/03: So yesterday I took a practice GRE exam online. Oh my gosh. Let me preface all of this by saying that I took this completely cold. I did take a GRE math course, in MAY, that I could hardly understand back then. Don't forget that it's been ten years since I've done this kind of math, and a good five years since I've done ANY math at all. Suffice to say, I am not a math person. To quote Barbie, "Math is hard."

So here goes. First of all, I didn't even finish the math section, I ran out of time. There were only 28 questions, and I think I got through 20 or maybe 22 of them. One was a graph I couldn't read at all, so that was a random guess. Several others I thought I had figured out an answer on paper but none of the choices matched, so I had to educated-guess those was pretty pathetic.

The verbal section went much better, thank goodness. The sentence completions were okay, and in general I thought I did fairly well. There were a crapload of words I didn't know. In fact, I wrote them down. Please let me know if you have ever even seen any of these words before: jejune, vitiate, saturnine, temerity, mawkish, diluvial. Then the ones that seemed like I should know them but I guess I didn't: intransigent, expurgate, quixotic, pedantic, malediction. Phew!

Here's the black and white results: 350 on the math section. 590 on the verbal section. Both out of a possible 800, just like the SAT. That's 43% and 73%. A mere total of 940! That's 59%. Holy crap, it just was terrible. Moral of the story: I NEED TO STUDY IF I EVER WANT TO PASS THE DAMN THING.

After that completely personal humiliation, of course I then had to contemplate the meaning of my life and where my future shall lead me. I thought about all the things I want to do in the next year or few (for dreams/aspirations and real life), and here are my current thoughts on them.

a. Graduate School. I think I already mentioned how a couple months ago I realized that I was completely unmotivated to really try hard at preparing for the exam. Every once in awhile I got all fired up and vowed to study and take the thing soon. But I could never follow through on it. Possibly I am afraid of failing (see above for proof of this theory!), and frankly, even studying the math scared me--I just don't remember it. Then, aside from the exam, I don't even know what to think about graduate school, as a whole. I don't think I'm ready yet to decide what type of program to choose. Yes, all this time I've thought about Public Health/Community Health Education. Unfortunately, I just don't know yet...nothing really excites me. I can't see myself really doing grad school. Right now I like making money and it is nice to have a break from the everyday stress of homework and all that. Plus, based on what I know from my senior year of college, graduate school will kill me with paper-writing.

My final decision, based on not yet making any decision about ANYTHING, is that I shall put off graduate school indefinitely, and wait until I feel a deep void in my life that could only be filled by higher education.

b. Performing. I wish I could be an actor. I wish I could be a public speaker. I love being in front of people. However, I don't think I really ever can or will do that. Boo. Henceforth I shall cease harboring any notions of fame in the entertainment and otherwise performing world.

c. Travel. Everyone knows the cliche American soul-searching backpacker. How awesome would that be, to take a whole year of life and just bum around, doing whatever, on other continents? The travel in my life is most likely going to be limited to just a couple continents, plus, when will I ever have enough money and willpower to just up and leave my whole life behind for a year? Come on, I already did AmeriCorps. Ha ha, I just realized that, that is fabulous. :)

Seriously though. I had been thinking this year about taking a trip to Europe. I was so homesick for Paris that I really thought about taking a long weekend to just jaunt over there and hang out. But really, Paris on my own, with nothing to do? Not sure if that would be cool. Obviously, Paris is always great, but maybe I should go somewhere new. I don't really feel any great pull towards any other great European city, and, remembering my Rome experience, I might get bored. Who wants to be bored in Rome?

Final decision: maybe take a long weekend in December to do something closer to home--I have no idea what--and save a big month long trip to Europe for next summer.

d. Work. Am I whoring myself out? Am I selling out for corporate America, that most evil capitalist empire? Pretty much. In my own silly defense, can I just reiterate for you all that money is cool?

No, really. I want to pay off my car, and it feels so good to not have to scrape by paycheck to paycheck. I am honestly living on my own for the first time in my life (yes, I know that shows just how sheltered I am, since I'm 23 years old), but even so, I am proud of myself. Having only one job, with standardized hours, for an extended period of time, still feels like a new thing for me. Sometimes it's a challenge because I feel bored or frustrated or overwhelmed by the notion that I am doing nothing to help greater humanity. But I try to buck up and always do the best that I can, and keep learning. So far I've been able to learn so much about the grown-up work world, and I think it will be very useful for whatever future I decide on. Assuming I decide on one.

My rational for all of this is to give it a year (from my permanent employment date of July 1). I figure that one year is a good time to test the waters of the whole demanding adult world, and that in this crazy market I may not even keep the job for that year. I look at it as a kind of experiment, proof to myself of my abilities, and that at the end of one year I will be allowed to evaluate my life (again, and for real). I have said to myself that after a year of working hard and trying my damndest to pay off my own car, I can go play and do something for me. Which leads me to my next and hopefully last piece.

e. Service, ie, Working for the Greater Good. What a difference a year makes! Once again, I shall briefly discuss how rewarding it was to know that whatever I did that day had some kind of positive, tangible effect on at least one person, if not an entire community. Yes, even something as mundane and boring as raking leaves. Somehow, chatting with people on the phone about their mortgages just doesn't quite live up, you know? Here are my thoughts. If, after a year, I decide that service is indeed that important, and I am financially stable enough, I shall devote another year to serving a community. Somewhere. Ooh, and I would love to move somewhere! What an adventure. Maybe I'll try for Team Leader in the Western or Southern Region of NCCC, maybe I'll try to work for a local AmeriCorps program in some different area, maybe I'll just go be a service bum. Who knows.

f. Spare time. I have way too much, and for the most part, I don't use it for anything remotely productive. So, beginning this weekend, I shall volunteer more/again. I'm thinking about taking a class at BCC or somewhere--maybe photography, maybe math or art history or something random. I am also in desperate need of expanding my social world. Is it me, or are the 20s a terrible time for social development? It's like everyone gets into a rut with their few friends and doesn't meet or hang out with too many new folks. I am totally guilty of that, but I love knowing lots of people in different capacities, so I got to get started getting out there.

Final decision: lots of talk about reinventing Julie's social sphere. But honestly, sitting around my own place reading all day long sounds pretty damn good, too.

Moral of this drawn-out piece of whatever: I think too much and do much too little. I hope that, probably in baby steps, I can change that.Thanks, y'all.

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