Applying for grad school is a bitch. It’s not very eloquent, but it’s very apt. Nothing makes you go through five to ten mini mental and emotional breakdowns in a month than putting together your application packet for the grad school and program of your dreams. You’re faced with your college transcript that has that nasty, ugly, solitary F amongst decent grades, and you think to yourself, “is this one F going to be the reason that I don’t get into grad school?” You ask your former or current employers and colleagues for recommendation letters, people you believe know you well enough to shed you in the best light, and when you get to catch a glimpse of what they say about you, you begin to think, “damn, I’m not nearly as impressive as I sound in that letter.” Then here comes the self-doubt that has always plagued you throughout your short career as a whatever-field-it-is-you’re-in as you have your sixth or seventh breakdown of the month and your sixth or seventh shot of bourbon for the night.
Then, there comes the putting together of the portfolio. The very thought of 20 photos representing the most recent two years of your career is mind numbing and, quite frankly, tortuous. In gigs alone, I result with albums containing at least a hundred photos. When I get on a plane for four hours, I step on the tarmac with at least 30 photos of clouds, more if I saw the sunrise or the sunset. I take so many damn photos of the sky that it helped me build and entire persona for my body of work. So when it came time to choose my 20 big ones, my emotional breakdowns took form in two variations: the oh-my-God-I-suck-at-this-why-am-i-even-applying-to-grad-school and the “hey! this is actually nice! maybe I’ll put it in my portf– OH GOD NO IT SUCKS WHY AM I EVEN APPLYING TO GRAD SCHOOL?”
It got so bad that even the TOEFL test, a test built for 5th graders who had never seen an American TV show in their lives, was able to psyche me out so much so that I had to call a friend at 8 in the morning on a Sunday, half-quivering and half drowning in self-loathing.
But eventually, you get through it. You collect your letters, you remind yourself that that class you failed was totally the jerk teacher’s fault, and you realize that if you fill your portfolio with work that you love with all your heart, it will come across to the people that will be viewing it. You send your applications, and then you begin the long, excruciating wait between December 10, 2011 to the vague date of “early to mid March 2012,” while trying not to slowly lose your mind. You will probably ping pong between incredibly high hopes to self-deprecating internal rants at least twice a day. And, you will probably start to bore yourself and everyone around you because it will be all you will think about, all you will talk about, and all you will research about on the Internet for the next three months.
Well, in about 48 hours, it will be officially “early March.” I’ve just spent three hours on Google maps checking out all the building addresses on the websites of the schools I applied to, and trying not to freak out that 64 credits spread over two years is going to cost me more money than I’ve ever seen in my life. All my energy will go into not completely losing it in the next two to three weeks. And if all else fails, there’s always the bourbon.
The pictures don’t really have anything to do with anything. I just needed them there to calm me down.