coffee and nerves

Here’s something I’ve been ‘doing’ but not writing about:

waiting in hope to get into / start a PhD program in Fall 2022.

My applications? Committed & sealed in mid-December and mid-January. My responses? Of 4 applications: one decline, one decline with a counteroffer of a ThM acceptance, two waitlists. The institutions let me know these things in February.

I have been waiting ever since.
More difficult for me — I have been praying my desire, the specific outcome I want, to God ever since.

This feels… inappropriate? Because I also pray and intend my faithfulness, which is not conditioned on this (or other) outcomes.
Stupid? Because as each day has passed, my doom-bias mutters: It’s not going to happen. You’re not going to start a PhD this fall. Just. Not. Happening… and you are stupid for torturing your whole-self by insisting on wanting One Thing instead of anything.


If you haven’t been part of higher-ed waitlists, here’s what I’ve been wrestling —

Back at each of those two institutions, the faculty PhD acceptance committee holds A List of the people they said yes to, and those they said mayyybee? to.
If a student in the yes-section turns around to the institution and says ‘never mind,’ one person in the maybe section slips into yes.

This process of no-and-slip happens throughout the timespan between application replies being sent and Decision Day. On the waitlist, any day might be a day of yes…
…and also, in 2021 one of the schools that turned me down for 2022 had 60 applications for 3 spots. I never heard how long their waitlist was. 60 people? 30?

I don’t know where I might be on either of my waitlists.

I’m writing this on April 15, which in addition to being Good Friday is liberal-arts PhD (and PhD-adjacent) Decision Day 2022.

By 5pm today (local time for the school? local time for me? it’s not stated) I must say yes to the ThM if I’m going to pursue that this fall.

In the absence of another offer, I absolutely plan to pursue a ThM this fall. But what if, as the Decision Day rubber hits the road, the yeses above me on the PhD turn into noes? What if, at 3pm Central Time (4 pm Eastern; Eastern Time is my most-restrictive time-boundary) I suddenly see a shiny new PhD-yes?


Weeks ago I told myself I would wait until 3:30pm CT to accept my ThM offer.
But then there’s all the minutes until 3:30pm.

Today the current of my desire is bottled up against a dam of time.

Long time ago I flipped off a river-tube and got pulled in, under, and pressed against the dam I’d just floated over. Right now I feel like that, though breathing.

I’m repeatedly drinking coffee (milk and sugar), staring out windows, folding clean shirts, refreshing my inbox…
feeling body-dull in the face of all this wanting,
and stupid for choosing — choosing! — to feel this way.

postscript: No horses rode in at the last minute with a rolled-up PhD program offer. I will be launching my ThM adventure in late August, 2022!

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