While graduate school does bring to mind onerous research papers and late nights downing cafe lattes in order to finish the text for tomorrow's class discussion, let's remember that if you love what you do (or study), it's a glorious burden. I've also not lost sight of the reality of entering the workforce - long hours, grunt work, minimal responsibilities, computer screen glaze-over . . . doing what you don't want to do in order to do what you really want to do is a reality of every career field. I am queen of the means to an end. I have had several mundane, lowly jobs (gas station attendant, office cleaning lady) to get where I wanted to go (Western Europe, Argentina, Washington D.C.).
Which is why I am going to try to love every minute of the next years, even the mental break downs associated with three research papers due in a week's span. I have always said that I want to be consumed by my passion. I want to think and discuss and read about international development so much that my head aches. I want to be surrounded by people who view the world and our role in it the same way as I do. I want to discover different countries, cultures, livelihoods, languages and new problems and all of their potential solutions.
And I never want to forget the reason why I got into this field. It's a field with an impossible goal. Free the world from poverty, ignorance, disease, starvation, slavery, corruption and war. Problems, problems, problems. I love problems.
So today, on the first day of classes, I am thinking of the incredible journey I've had in getting to this point, the mystery of what lies ahead, and . . . Freddy. Freddy was the first severely malnourished child I came across in Nicaragua. The child whose state of being made me feel hopelessly impotent but determined to never forget that there is more need out there than can be taken care of.
I am absolutely small and, yes, quite impotent in the face of the world's problems, but I can't imagine spending life any other way than trying.