As many of you know (assuming the majority of people reading this are people I know), I will start graduate school at San Francisco State University next week. But that statement isn’t quite accurate. What I should have said instead was that, next week, I will restart graduate school, for, what many of you don’t know (or simply don’t remember), I already made a go at graduate school once before. A year ago I was enrolled in the History M.A. program at SFSU, and with all the pride and excitement that one feels while imagining himself as a graduate student, I thought I was ready for graduate school. For reasons that are too long and perhaps too personal to list here, I recognized less than a month into the program that I wasn’t ready, so I withdrew from the university. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted do with my life at the time, but since I was preoccupied in other matters, I didn’t worry about it much. After some changes in my personal and professional life, however, I realized that I had made a huge mistake by leaving the History M.A. program at SFSU; not only was history the thing I enjoyed doing most (and the thing I was most qualified for!), it was also the thing I was actually quite good at. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew I had to reenter academia soon.
Since I start school next week, you might expect me to say that I reapplied to and was accepted into the program. But that’s not what happened. The details of what happened are tedious and confusing, so I won’t recount them here (I know, I know, y’all are bummed), but suffice it to say that things worked out in my favor. I’m enrolled in classes, I’m rebuilding my relationships within the department, and I’m determined to make the most of this second chance. This time around, I’m ready; in fact, I have never been more ready for anything in my life. Today I feel the way I expected to feel last year—excited, confident, and optimistic. I can’t tell you exactly what the future holds, because who knows what curve balls life will throw at me over the next several years, but I can tell you that it will involve history, tons of writing, and a PhD. I made a mistake, yes, but I won’t dwell on it. I can’t. Looking critically into the past may be what I do professionally, but, in my personal life, I must keep looking forward.