The Plan (or why I dropped out of grad school and started my own business)

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We enter adulthood with a plan. Maybe it’s hashed out over a cup of coffee or maybe a shot or two of tequila but nonetheless we were once pie-eyed dreamers standing at our threshold, staring out into the future, sketching a map that appeared direct and seamless and promised us the life we thought we desired.

Four years ago I rolled up my sleeves and went to work on my plan.

A plan that made professional and financial sense. A plan that was, in my opinion, neat and uniformed and albeit a bit boring–it was a plan that made sense.

When I shared the plan people smiled, nodded, raised a glass and congratulated me on my initiative.

The praise and support felt good. It was seductive and reassuring. Yet underneath my smile, my thin, freckled topography there brewed fear and uncertainty.

I could feel myself falling into a professional life I didn’t want.

I was allowing money and the silvery thoughts of a mahogany desk and a gold-plated plaque with my name engraved on it guide my compass.

And in my pursuit of such frivolous things, I ignored the pull of passion.

I ignored that internal voice, the one we all have, but the voice we’re quick to dismiss, as I turned toward the thing I despised the most: inauthentc

The plan

In January 2013, I enrolled in grad school to earn a master’s degree in educational administration, a move that would score a principal job, and an office with a bathroom and a secretary to field my phone calls and fetch my coffee.

Now, I should have halted the plan when my two main objectives were:

  1. enroll in the cheapest grad school program possible
  2. complete the course as quick as possible

I should have known when I was willing to invest money but not time, not energy that I was chasing down someone else’s dream. 

I should have known when I wanted the rewards without the work.

I should have known when the voice inside was screaming, “NO!”

The lie

Have you ever told a lie, then convinced yourself it was the truth?

I have.

That’s what grad school was like for me. I told people it was what I wanted when I didn’t.

I was living a lie and it was awful.

Like being wedged in a relationship you no longer believed in. I stayed committed because it was safe. It was never a matter of love or passion. It was a matter of uniformity.

It was the most inauthentic stretch of time in my life.

The moment of truth

I consider myself lucky.

My moment of truth was blunt, like a hammer strike to the forehead.

It came in the form of an MRI. An MRI that revealed a hole in my brain. A rare autoimmune disorder had attacked my brain, killed a bunch of cells and left me with a hole in my brain.

(If you haven’t heard this story check this out)

I often think if my brain remained intact how I probably would have earned my degree, became a principal, and how I probably would have never written this sentence.

Yes, my bank account would be bigger but would I honor and celebrate the fleeting paradigms of time and energy the way I do now?

And yes, I would have my health but what about self-respect? What about passion? What about authenticity?

The new plan (AKA Do You)

I can only equate that living your ideal life in the privacy of your own mind instead of living it out loud is equivalent to hell on earth.

Three years ago I dropped out of grad school. I’m only 3 classes, 9 credits from earning a degree in educational administration.

And I don’t care.

A few weeks ago I signed the paperwork and made Write on Fight on a limited liability company.  A company dedicated to helping people of all ages and levels not only improve their writing skills but to embrace the power of writing. A company committed to helping people tell their stories.

Right now, Write on Fight on LLC. is a just little company with big dreams.

And, admittedly, I’ve got a lot to learn about managing, operating, advertising and sustaining my own business. But I’m on the verge of turning  37 and I’m very, really, super… I’m fucking excited to get started.

A few weeks ago I told someone that I was 9 credits away from earning a masters degree. They were shocked and told me I should go back to school immediately. When I tried to rationalize they pressed. They said how it was a financial and professional mistake not going back. So close, why not finish?

I smiled and let them have their opinions.

Because sometimes that’s all you can do.

Because the facts remain– I woke up this morning with a hole in my brain. I will wake up tomorrow with a hole in my brain. And wasting money and, more importantly, time and energy on something I’m not passionate about will not fill the hole in my brain.

So it’s only fitting, on St. Patrick’s Day, to let Ireland’s greatest writer say what I’ve been feeling since my moment of truth three years ago…

Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.–James Joyce

Be well,

Jay

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