Monday, May 11, 2015

So you want to work at NASA...

I was so, so hesitant to write this.  Nothing is set in stone yet, I haven't figured out how to pay for things, and there's a chance I'll fail.  The idea of writing all of this out and then not achieving any of it makes me queasy. 

Yesterday I mentioned that I might be going back to school. 

Except, by "might," I mean unless it's entirely impossible, I'm going back to school.  

I don't know how many times I've told my friends, in feigned jest, that I want to be an astronaut.  I should change that to "mostly" feigned jest because I know I'll never be an astronaut.  I have health issues and even if they all get resolved, I'm a wimp.  And even if I overcame my fear, being an astronaut requires a lot of experience.  Yes, that's possible, but not any time soon.  Ten years from now I hope to have kids, and I don't think I'd want to literally leave Earth if I had children.  (Which is funny because most caretakers, including me, have frequent feelings like, "get me away from these monsters darlings.")

Wowsa.  I surprise myself sometimes with how quickly and thoroughly I can veer off topic.  

Anyhow.  While becoming an astronaut is my alter-ego pipe dream, learning about space-related things is very much something I want to do.  Working in that field is something I want to do.  

But Charlotte, you went to school for political science, sociology, and philosophy.... what in the world are you saying?? 

Get it?  What in the world?? heh.  (Thanks, Gilmore Girls.)
I know.  And I love political science, sociology, and philosophy.  

But here's the thing: I don't think it's what I want to do for a living.  I will always be political.  I'm a person who grew up in poverty.  I'm in the working class.  Literally, my livelihood depends on being political.  It depends on social change, on civil disobedience, on standing in solidarity with all those who struggle.  And I will always participate, whenever it is physically possible.  But I don't want it to be my career anymore.  I don't know why I thought that was the only way to be political in the first place.  

I want to work at NASA.  (Or do something related, like work at a school or research center or a museum.)  Remember this quote from The West Wing? 

I want to be a part of that.  And that's something that will only happen if I work hard at it.  (That's not to say being political isn't hard.  But I can be political without working in politics.  I can't help humankind get to Mars just by watching others do it.) 

Unfortunately, none of this is cheap or easy.  I need to be an undergrad again.  And then I need to get a master's.  I've talked to a few people over the last week for some guidance, and they've assured me that it's possible despite finances and lackluster grades from my first stint as a college student.  So far, it looks like I'll first need to take a few courses in physics and calculus at a community college.  Then, if I do well, I need to go back for another bachelor's.  School itself will be hard but these two steps, as far as I can tell, are going to be the hardest.  One, paying for the courses at a community college.  Two, getting into school again.  Sure, I can do exceptionally well in the courses which will help, but it doesn't totally cancel out the fact that I graduated with a low gpa.  So that's not going to be easy.  If I do manage all that though, the next step would be applying to grad school.  

This simultaneously feels exactly right and completely insane.  I'm worried that I'll try to do this and fail.  Or that I'll move back to Long Island - a place that stresses me out - and then won't be able to take the courses.  Or that I'll use money and time taking the courses and then won't get into school, making everything a waste.  I feel like my chances of failure are... astronomical.  Heh. 

But, it could be worse. 

Someone smart said this.
I could keep telling myself I'm not smart enough to pursue a career in math or science.  (Something I started telling myself some time around eighth grade.)  I could keep pretending that my mediocre grades in high school science classes were because I was bad at it, and not because I didn't do homework and skipped class often.  I could ignore the fact that my test grades were usually good, that a teacher recommended I take college courses, that I enjoyed most of my math and science classes.  

I could maintain my current lifestyle, which is completely devoid of goals, work, and purpose.

And I really don't want to do that. 

So I went ahead and made myself a checklist: 

That's all I really want to say on the topic for now.  Here's hoping it happens.  


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