The Dune saga by Frank Herbert is one of my all-time favourite book series. It is a gloriously complex space epic, with lore so deep that it inspired its own book series. On my drive home from McHenry today, I reflected on the the road ahead, my anxiety over that road, and how to manage the anxiety, and still be sane in the interim. The “Litany Against Fear” from Dune is the perfect tool to wield against my subconscious:
I will not fear.
According to the information I have read, the application deadline closes on November 1. The notification date is December 5, with a new student orientation happening on January 14, 2016. That leaves a five-and-a-half week window in which to execute a (partial) cross-country relocation.
Fear is the mind-killer.
I am a planner. My family doesn’t even take trips into the city without reviewing transportation options, timing, and identifying the hidden costs to determine affordability.
I can’t plan for this move in a normal (to me) way, because I do not know if this move will happen. Further, I can’t plan for this move as a move, since I don’t know what the situation will be when the academic semester ends, and without an endpoint as my “solve for [x]” point, it’s a bit hard to, well, do the math.
The kicker is that I don’t know what the financial aid package will look like if I am accepted, and without that answer, I don’t know what kind of resources I can bring to bear if the time comes to use them. The two things driving the bulk of my anxiety are:
1. If I am accepted, how do I get to school in a way that doesn’t shatter my family’s sanity or financial stability? and….
2. What if I am accepted, but the financial aid package leaves an unafforable out-of-pocket amount? Can I say “no”, simply because I can’t afford to take the opportunity, and not have it crush the hope I have built for the future?
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
In this case, it’s not just the fear. It’s also decision paralysis, and I’m stuck in a holding pattern. Holding patterns are a black hole of sanity for me.
I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
I am doing a lot of deep breathing, distracting, and general avoidance of the issue. I have not faced the anxiety demons yet, all I have done is ignore them in the hopes that they will go away. This is a Very Bad Idea, so now I must face this fear, permit the moment to pass by, and face the challenges directly and rationally.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
I realized today that there are things that need to be done, things that can be done, and things that should be done.
Step 1: Do not pin all my plans to the MTH basket. Instead, plan for contingencies.
I will pull up the registration calendar for ECC this week, and begin researching what classes I can take in the Spring. That will mean paying for them out of my own pocket, but I did just complete the FAFSA, which brings us to the next item on my to-do list.
Step 2: Plan around the financial limitations.
I will schedule a meeting with the financial aid office at ECC for next week to discuss Spring 2016. If I can lay measure to the devil in my pocketbook, then I can properly plan for its inevitable defeat.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
I have finally accepted the nature of the application process. Fear is nothing more than a tarp covering a giant lever, and a lever is naught but a tool to remove obstacles. It’s time to get to work.
Only I will remain.