With everything that has gone on in the past week, I find myself imagining several possible futures:
Scenario 1: I apply to all of my PhD programs and get into two or three of them. After campus visits and plenty of pros and cons lists, I finally decide on one. My boyfriend finds a job in the same city and moves there after me. I graduate, get my dream job, and get married. We live happily ever after. Obviously the ideal scenario.
Scenario 2: I apply to PhD programs and only get into one. It is the one furthest away from home. My boyfriend and I break up amicably and remain friends, because five years is a really long time to do long-distance. I graduate and get my dream job, but I’m always left wondering “what if.”
Scenario 3: I don’t get into any of the programs I applied to (or I don’t even apply to them). My boyfriend and I both get hired full-time (with benefits) at the same university. I decide that I’m perfectly content with this life for the foreseeable future. We get married and start a family. It isn’t the life I had envisioned for myself, but it’s a good life.
Scenario 4: I don’t get into any of the programs I applied to (or I don’t even apply to them). A full-time job never comes up. Nothing changes. I spend the next year doing what I’m doing now, feeling like I’m still waiting for my future to start.
Scenario 5: I don’t apply to programs because I don’t want to leave my boyfriend. Three months later, we break up. I have to wait another year to try again. In the meantime, I work the same job I have now, feeling yet again like I’m waiting for my life to start.
Why are there so many variables? How do I know what the right path is, or what the future holds? How will I ever make these decisions?
Only time will tell.