Only You Determine Your Failures

At the end of 2012, I stumbled across an amazing Peace Corps Fellows Masters in Teaching program. I use the term “stumbled across” loosely, as I was looking pretty specifically at Education programs.

At the time, I was only in my first months of Peace Corps and I knew I had at least a year and a half to weigh the options and pick a few schools to apply to. I made a glorious spreadsheet with 60 schools and judged them based on program credentials, cost, reply time from admissions staff, and more.


A year a half later I’d taken the GRE, formally asked people to be references and narrowed the list to only nine. And then my laptop was stolen.

Thankfully I’d spent enough time staring at that list to know what was on it. More importantly, I knew that I really, really wanted that first program I’d discovered.

Columbia Teacher’s College Peace Corps Fellows Program for a Master’s in Teaching with a three year teaching contract.

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Doesn’t that sound amazing?

I applied. In January I flew to New York and interviewed. I held my breath for two months, it was pretty uncomfortable.

Two weeks ago I was accepted.

Huzzah! Hurray! Wahoo! And all manner of joy!

Here’s the thing: I’m not going. Not this year at least.

It is my dream program, it’s perfect for me and my professional goals, it’s amazing and I am honored to have gotten in. And when I go, I want to be ready to give it my absolute all.

Truth is, I’m not ready yet. Not financially, not emotionally.

I’m still readjusting.

I’m in love with a boy.

I just got a hefty promotion.

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It’s not time for this yet and it took me a long time to figure that out because the second I even started thinking about this program, every single person around me started cheering for me to get in.

We all got so focused on that goal that we forgot the bigger goal: to be happy. To do what’s right for me.

I know I’ll get some flack for deferring. I know some people won’t get it. Some will make snide remarks.

I don’t give a flying duck. Or a sitting one, or a swimming one.

This is the best decision for me. You know when people say “well I just don’t want you to regret this later.” Well, you could take an awesome opportunity and still regret it. That’s how regret works.

The moral of my short story is this: you do you. No one else walks in your shoes or thinks your thoughts or hears the singing of your heart. Do the things that look insane and feel right. Just do you.

And best of luck.


13 thoughts on “Only You Determine Your Failures

  1. I just stumbled upon this post in a search for “oh god I deferred grad school and I’m terrified” because I didn’t feel validated getting into an MFA but I needed the validation for the request I put in Monday. I’m scared! And I’m glad I found your post!
    Thank you for the honesty in this. I want to make the most of my Deferred year, but if I panicked so much about the decision I know I need a lot of self care before a grad program. A year feels like a long time but if in that time I regret my decision, at the end I have an amazing program to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, you have no idea the joy this brings me, I love it when my random musings actually bring someone clarity. Deferring should never be a regret, it’s still never been one for me. I’m so glad I waited because it made me a better student and it will keep you fresh as a learner. Good for you for doing it even though you’re scared! Best of luck!


  2. Hi Rebecca,
    I wanted to thank you for your visits to my site yesterday.
    I read your post. Did you know that I am a teacher? I love it. Thank you again for your visits to Reflections yesterday. I’m sorry I couldn’t get over sooner to thank you. I’m glad you liked my posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love what you said about regret…a lot of people are telling me that my decision to wait to go to grad school is a bad one and that im going to regret, but they refuse to think about my happiness in all of this. I am already graduating from a program that i no longer like, trying to enter a completely different career field. I also still need to buy a car and im still not sure what i want to even get my master’s in. Nowadays, people have become to tied up in a routine that society has created and it’s unfortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true. For some reason the connection between regret and happiness has been lost. Is it any different if you go to grad school and regret that decision? Do what you need to be happy and the rest will happen. Best of luck to you!


  4. Congratulations on figuring out what’s best for you. That’s really all that matters and what allows us to live with our decisions. You’re not really living your life to answer yourself to other people.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post speaks to my soul. I’m in the midst of making a huge life decision that I know I’m going to be judged for and a huge part of me is annoyed that I care. We’re smart ladies who make spreadsheets and pro con lists, surely we make informed decisions. You’ve made the right decision for you:) Get it girl!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Well, you could take an awesome opportunity and still regret it. That’s how regret works.” These words ring so true for me. I got accepted into an awesome teaching program in France and everyone said that I should do it, so I did, but deep down I keep questioning my decision. I think at least part of me knew that it wasn’t the right time for me, but I went anyway and came back three weeks later, feeling like a failure. I should have listened to the voice inside telling me what to do. It is great that you have both the wisdom and strength to listen to yourself now. Good luck ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a brilliant example. I feel like we get so scared of people believing we regret things just because we choose some arbitrary “wrong path” …though I also hate it when people say we too much…anyway thanks for reading and sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

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