Essai

[Sara Tremblay]

Well I'm trying not to get too pitiful about this, but the first (and hopefully the last) rejection letter came in today, informing me that the University of Pennsylvania could unfortunately not accept me.

It is, of course, a sodden grey day, full of wet toes, dripping noses, and shivering limbs [arboreal and corporeal].

Pessoa says "I write down what I feel in order to lower the fever of feeling," so here goes:

I spent this afternoon reading through an essay by Paul Valéry on "Man and the Seashell" (which I quoted briefly in the beginning of the month). As I was reading I realized that I was feeling a familiar confidence amidst phrases and thoughts -- I felt like I had returned to the mental activity I was revelling in when graduate school came to an unfortunate end. I was finding those interconnections which please me so much -- like the threads uniting Augustine, Eliot, Keats and Woolf -- or the provocative thoughts found in Gilson and Valéry which I was applying to my own newly-budding artistic directions. I was further encouraged by the wonderful seminar on Books I - V in Augustine's Confessions last night -- full of interesting thought and discussion.

So I've been feeling confident about the whole student thing. I've been trying to ignore my natural pessimism which wants to keep dwelling on how I don't fit the mold of an admirable candidate -- I'm interested in marginal philosophical studies, I have my MA from a strongly non-research program, and I'm 2 years out of school -- I was trying to think of those things as if they were assets I could bring to a PhD program.

And now, with this first lovely electronic rejection [not that I'm sure having a piece of paper would be better], now I get to start thinking "what if?" My "what ifs" are twofold: 1) what if I get in nowhere at all? and 2) what if I get in somewhere but they give me no funding?

And my immediate backup plans are things like: cry, or "do some drastic undefined thing." But really, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. It sounds a bit silly when written out but I really do feel like I have a vocation -- to continue pursuing those questions that help us to figure out what it means to be human and to have existence. And I want to teach -- in the purest sense of that word.

And I'm torn now when I think of what my options are should everything fall apart ... do I wait another year? -- biding my time and trying to fight off the growing apathy which had me pretty close to submerged at one point ... do I give it all up as some unreachable dream and try and find a practical "career?" Thinking of either of those options makes my stomach turn and something in me recoil.

And I don't know if writing this has helped me in some way "lower the fever of feeling" or if it's something I'll come back and delete in a month, but either way I have to continue waiting.