I’m not one for idioms, but I was never fond of “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Think about it. “Eggs” are presumably your resources, right? The time you have, skills, energy, money, affection and so on. So the phrase is telling you to invest in multiple “baskets” (options) by divvying up your resources. It’s essentially telling you to expect failure.
I don’t like that.
I’m just saying, maybe Plan A failed because you devoted some of your finite capacities to Plan C. Maybe you weren’t offered a fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh or a place in Oxford University’s BPhil in Philosophy program because you spent so much time writing about sports. (That’s a hypothetical).
But how I would have regretted every moment I sat in the Bearcats Sports Complex or the Events Center and every hour I spent rewinding media files and transcribing interviews and every day I pored over stat sheets composing articles barely anyone reads were I not accepted.
Because then, you know, you delve into “what if” scenarios.
I would imagine any self-respecting, rational being thinks it within her capacity to achieve the highest at what she loves. Natural ability only takes you so far; hard work brings you the rest of the way. You know what factors into hard work? Eggs. (Resources, for those of you with fleeting short-term memories.)
My family was concerned, of course. They believed I knew what I was talking about, but they knew the numbers. They knew that institutions get upwards of 200 applications but fund six or so fellowships per year. I went to Binghamton. They worried.
But when I called them after I received my first fellowship offer in the middle of February (Friday the 13th, actually), and I had never felt so proud in my life, my parents and sister were incredibly supportive. Their reactions sent me to tears, as I awkwardly paced back and forth before the windows of the crowded Marketplace, confused and shaking from something like joy and shock and pride and gratefulness and, I guess, finally being able to put a feeling to the word “elated.”
It was really rather circumstantial.
The night before, I was on the phone with my mother in near desperation about my prospects. Was I not cut out for philosophy?
Or, alternatively, (and here’s the kicker) was it my fault? What would I do with myself, knowing I could have read more, studied longer, slept more, etc. had I not devoted so much time to Pipe Dream Sports, had I not divvied my eggs between two entirely distinct baskets?
Hence my reaction to that first email. It wasn’t a top-10 program. But that acceptance validated me. And not only me, but all those who stood behind me, as well.
To Dr. Guay, I cannot express enough gratitude. But probably the most important thing is, I have a Terrible Towel to bring to Pittsburgh, so now I can fit in. I thank you for that, and also for the chance to even go to Pitt.
To my family: Mom, you entertained me even when you had pneumonia, and you manage to make me both laugh and unbelievably frustrated. That’s impressive. Pops, thanks for inviting and then uninviting yourself to my Georgetown visit. I’ll accompany you to D.C. this summer — contingent upon your admitting that a five-point lead isn’t a blowout. Christine, I came to Binghamton to spend an extra two years with you, and I’m certain no other experience would have been better. You da be(eeeesssss)s. Cheesetoast, I’m sorry about Oxford. You, Effie, Christine and I will just have to open our BRB (bar, restaurant, bakery) in Pittsburgh. You’re all moving to Pittsburgh.
My point is, I exclusively identified with Plan A. If that basket dropped for me, it would have been no consolation that I had eggs in another one. It would have been devastating; I would have known I could have done better, but didn’t.
And if I had put all my eggs in one basket, and then that basket dropped and all my eggs shattered and my life were a yolky, sticky, salmonella-y mess, then I’d get some new damn eggs and put them in a different damn basket. There’s no “what if” to torment you; you can start again.
I absolutely don’t regret my time with Pipe Dream. I’m honored to have covered the programs I covered and to have met the people I met. But I would have questioned my valuations had that email on Feb. 13 never come, and if no other on any subsequent day had either.
So what I want to go on the record saying is, choose where you put your eggs wisely.
Also, I dislike idioms.