Saturday, June 11, 2016

Thwarted Plans

Here's why yesterday was a bummer.

The first part of the day was just one of those dumb days when little things just keep going wrong. The store doesn't have the one thing you're looking for, you can't load the podcast you want to listen to, and you hit every single possible red light. One of those days.

But then, that night, I finally got around to opening my financial aid letter.

Wait. Lemme back up.

So, I'm getting my MFA in Writing right now, through an online program. I started in January, and made this plan: Take 9 credits per term in order to graduate by summer 2017. During this time, I work a few times a month for the U of U as a simulation patient, and pursue acting, all while working on my degree for a few hours per day. I'm eligible for enough financial aid to cover the cost of tuition and have a little left over to supplement my income, so that I can focus on acting and school.

Great plan, right?

So, I got my financial aid letter for the next school year, and apparently I am eligible for $12,000 LESS than what I was expecting. Starting in July.

Plan THWARTED. All kinds of thwarted.

Suddenly, I found myself in this terrible conundrum. Here were my options:

1. Keep taking 9 credits per semester, but get an additional job to make enough money to pay the bills. This would necessitate giving up acting for the year, because I don't have enough time to work as an actor, take 9 credits, AND work an additional hourly job.

2. Drop out of school altogether, get an additional job, and continue acting work.

3. Reduce my credit load to 6 credits per semester, meaning I'll graduate LATER, but which gives me enough financial aid to continue my current plan of working as an actor and my several other jobs.

After freaking out for about half an hour, I finally chose Option #3. My acting career is really important to me, and I didn't want to give it up. I also didn't want to drop out of school. I'm disappointed about taking longer to finish my degree, but ultimately, it's the option that allows me to pursue both my current goals and my future goals. It's the one that makes the most sense. But it's still a bummer. Because time. And because money.

It means that my budget is a little tighter than I had planned, so I REALLY need to get more paid acting work if I want to do anything except pay rent and utilities. Things like the orthodontist and new character shoes just have to stay on the wish list until and unless I get a paid gig.

Luckily, there are lots of those to be found around here.

(But, Liz? Doesn't Jacob have a job? He can support you both, can't he? Yes. He does have a job, and he could, theoretically, support us. But a few years ago, we decided to split our finances. Our shared monthly bills are split evenly, and anything else we do with our own earned money is up to us. This is the best solution for our marriage. I don't claim to believe that it's best for everyone, but it's DEFINITELY best for us. We do help each other out in emergencies. But I'd really like to hold up my end of the deal and pay for my share of things. Someday, our circumstances may change, and we may shift the way we do things. But for now, this is how it works, and I want to do my part.)

The final chapter to this mini-drama is a happy one, though. I posted that above-pictured Facebook status in the wee small hours of the morning last night (time makes sense?), feeling a little lost and trying to embrace my vulnerability. And I woke up this morning to this ENORMOUS outpouring of love and support, far more than I was asking or hoping for. I had private messages and memes galore to lift my heart, and lifted it was. I was humbled by the kindness that so many showed me. I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so many large-hearted people. It makes disappointments far easier to bear. Thank you.

So here's to a longer MFA career with less money, with loving friends and family by my side! Onward.

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