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Growth Requires Change Requires Growth Requires Change

A friend once expressed to me how tired he was of hearing people complain about struggles in their lives, but it was not because he didn’t care about those people. He was weary of hearing complaints from friends who never tried to do anything to change their circumstances. They complained, complained, complained, complained, but nothing... ever... changed... because they never changed their choices.

I was one of those people.

He was talking about me, among an anonymous group of others unknown to me, a royal “they” if you will, and this realization resulted in serious reflection. His statement caused me to inspect areas of my life in which I was unhappy, and to try to find a way to improve, whenever it was within my power to do so, those unsatisfactory conditions of daily life.

Making such changes, I knew, would be uncomfortable, and would sometimes require direct and difficult conversations with those close to me. I was forced to be real in ways that I once suppressed to maintain a façade of happiness. This isn’t to say that every part of my life was terrible, simply that a significant part of everyday life had become increasingly difficult, enough that it was affecting the quality of my mental, emotional, and physical health.

Seven years later, I have accomplished more than I ever thought I could. Not only did I finish my associate degree in English at Black Hawk College, but I also went on to earn a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing with an emphasis in publishing from the University of Iowa, graduating with honors in the Spring of 2020. Then I earned a graduate certificate in publishing from the Denver Publishing Institute in August of 2020.

My friend’s words still ring in my ears when something in my life could be better, prompting me to keep moving forward in life and to explore if or how something could or should be different. Sometimes necessary changes mean that I need to help somebody else who is close to me. Other times it means I need to slam on the brakes and take a new direction in my own life.

Most recently, I began an MA in English through Western Illinois University in Macomb. This program was selected because it was a drivable distance from home in Davenport, and it included an assistantship program where I could work as a Teaching Assistant, (teaching College Writing 1), and a Teaching Support Assistant in the University Writing Center to help students with any writing assignments, regardless of their degree focus.

While I have enjoyed teaching and helping in the writing center, I quickly became disillusioned with the MA program when course selections for the Spring semester were barely covering anything close to what I thought would exist based on the initial program review. I started to look at other master’s programs, thinking I would switch with the new fall 2022 semester.

Then I found an opportunity for a master's program in a field of study that was more closely associated with my ultimate career goals. I want to work in the publishing field, ideally as an editor, where I can discover new authors and help them publish their compelling works of creative nonfiction writing. As a result, I will be starting a Master’s Degree in Professional Creative Nonfiction Writing through the University of Denver this January.

Yes, this is an abrupt, unexpected change in direction. This decision was made because it was something within my power to change, and because it would be a positive move for my future. I will forever be grateful to this friend who helped me realize that I do not have to sit back and remain unhappy with various circumstances in life. Complaining does nothing towards improvement or growth.

Understandably, there will always be struggles and sadness and things that make someone unhappy in every life, but when that unhappiness impacts the quality of life for you and those around you, and when there is a different choice you can make, don’t hesitate to take a leap in a new direction.

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