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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

If I Only Had the Nerve

I'm quivering. Shaking in my boots. Or I would be, were I wearing boots rather than glorified slippers. (The benefits of being self-employed.) Anxiety? More like terror. Why? I just made my first graduate school-related phone call, a seemingly simple request for more information before hitting ENTER and sending my online FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) careening through cyberspace.

I spent nearly 20 years working in administration at various institutions of higher education. I know how to ask appropriate questions, what information to have at my fingertips. I speak the lingo, as it were. After years working in Admissions, deans offices, records offices, those at the other end of the phone are My People. Calling to ask for a tiny clarification should not be A Big Deal. And yet. And yet.

What if I sound stupid? I babble when I'm nervous. Will sounding incompetent on the phone create a permanent blot on my as-yet-unfiled application for admission? Will saying the words out loud make this all too, too real? "Hello, my name is Hannah B., and I'm applying for your low-residency MFA in writing..." Yikes. So I dialed the phone. My second-choice school, the one with the earliest deadline, is in LA. Offices on the west coast not open yet. Call my first-choice school, in New England. The financial aid coordinator is out of the office until tomorrow. Nuts. All that angst for nothing. God help me when it's time to submit a creative sample of a personal statement.


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