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School is back in session and today was the first day of Fall! It’s cooling down here and I know winter is just around the corner, which makes me want to cry…but I know it will be beautiful outside for the next month or two!

I love my new classes, but I can’t believe my time at NYU will be over in less than 12 weeks! It is INSANE how fast time goes by!

So, about this phrase, “Off the beaten path”

For me, it conjures up images of hiking in the woods as a kid or all those guys I went to high school with that were obsessed with mudding…but MY path has always been school. Moving around the country as a kid, being an only child, dating, navigating young adulthood, growing up, taking off to NYC, no matter what happened in my life, my path was paved with academia. Every phase of my life has revolved around going to school and succeeding academically. Of course, my path also included all of the things that make me me, but the thing pulling me along that path, the curbs guiding me back on to the track if I began to veer off, was school. Setting goals, choosing classes, securing finances, doing homework, taking tests, scheduling my week around class times, working during breaks, etc. Even when my relationships in life changed (be they romantic, paternal, or platonic) school was still there as something I had to get through and do well at.

I am currently in my last semester at NYU. I came here because I applied to numerous PhD programs when I finished my first MA and was not accepted to any of them. I am currently reapplying to PhD programs and while I hope my time at NYU will help my chances of getting into a doctoral program, the real truth is my path is narrowing by the day and the forks in the road are multipling. I honestly don’t know what I will do if this path ends in January. I have to choose a new path, with a career…absent of everything I’ve ever known. There won’t be that chance for a fresh start every 16 weeks, I won’t be forced to meet a new group of people and master a new topic of discussion every semester. I won’t have the fear of a tarnished transcript to motivate me to stay up until 4 AM to perfect a paper.

Of course it’s getting scarier and scarier as the path begins to change, but it’s also exciting to see where it is going to lead. There is that fear that I will have to take the first job I’m offered that allows me to pay my bills and that all of the sacrifices I’ve made (socially, romantically, financially, physically) since I was about 15 (the age I think I began to separate from my peers and take the path that put academia at the forefront of my life) will be for nothing. But I also know that I could find an awesome new path here that would never have been possible had I not come here to NYC. 

So, currently, I’m at the end of the path I devoted myself to in high school–when I left the well beaten path of kids and marriage and houses and cars and 9 to 5s that most of my peers followed–and now I am have to find a new path. I am hoping my next adventure doesn’t lead me back around to where I would have been before all of this book learnin’, but that’s always possible.I guess if I do go back to the path many of my peers took, it will definitely be off my beaten path now! 

I guess that’s the thing, at least for me. Life is off the beaten path always. You divert to a path you’ve never taken, wear it down a little bit and then BOOM, on to a new one. I believe in free will and while I think everyone’s life has a plan and purpose, I do think we make choices everyday that can change that plan dramatically. I’m not so big on the idea of a predetermined life (which got me into lots of trouble that one year I went to an Evangelical Christian school, haha). I made choices to follow this path when I was a teen and now, if admissions people don’t like what I’ve created these past years, I have to find a new path completely. 

I hope the new path is envigorating and stimulating and fun!

I guess I just have to enjoy the next 12 weeks of this now well worn path and start getting ready for the hike that is waiting on me when I depart it. 

Here’s to a nice journey on your paths! Until next time, friends!