2. I'd be able to write fiction without feeling guilty about using up time that could have been spent on my graduate work instead.
3. Maybe my hair wouldn't have started turning white when I was still in my twenties. And then maybe I wouldn't have learned that dyeing one's hair should probably be left to the professionals, especially when one is too impatient to read all the instructions beforehand.
4. People wouldn't make comments like, "When are you going to grow up and get a job?" and "You've been in school forever! You're a professional student!" and "I know all these people who earned their graduate degrees in just one or two years. You should work harder so that you can finish sooner."
5. I'd have more money for the essentials, like rent, groceries, and Britney Spears' albums.
6. I wouldn't feel so lost and scared sometimes, because graduate school is extremely difficult. I've never felt like I belonged there.
7. I could have gone into politics instead and made it illegal for people to talk on their cell phones at the movies, in church, and on long train rides. The penalty would be to make their cell phones malfunction every time they entered a public space, so that they would lose the will to annoy people.
8. I could have accepted one of the job offers outside of academia that I had when I graduated from college. I could have started earning a real salary with health insurance and benefits, and I could have had just one job instead of two or three. Maybe I could have had a job that actually ended when I left the office each day, rather than have to face a stack of papers to grade and several books to read every night after a long day of teaching and office hours.
9. I wouldn't have wasted all that time poring over the dictionary before I finally realized that many scholars make up multi-syllable words to make themselves sound smarter...er, to explain their ideas and theories.
10. I would never have taught any of the undergraduates and high school students who taught me more about life, myself, and what I'm capable of than I ever could have learned anywhere else.
I've wanted to drop out of graduate school a thousand and one times. But I haven't given up yet, because I feel like I'd be giving up a lot more than just my degree if I did. Teaching is the one job I've ever had that I actually liked and was good at. I feel more at home in a college classroom than I would have felt in an office, a hospital, a bank, a law firm, the stage, etc., etc.
What about you? When you think of a choice you've made, whether it was a career that you decided to pursue, a place that you chose to live in, or a person that you chose to spend your life with, did you ever think of what would have happened if you hadn't made that choice?