Growth/Defeat – Life/Death [or the day I took the GMAT]

No. This post is not about the horrors of standardized testing. I could write a whole book about that! Studying 4-5 hours a day for 2 months straight, cramming fractions, number properties and algebra into my head after 10 years without it and then being forced todoitallreallyreallyfastunder30minutes withthepressureofyourfuturehanginginthebalance. It is one the great joys in life. But what I really wanted to talk about was how both of these things: The Growth/Defeat and LIFE/DEATH all hit me at exactly the same time. I had a teacher at some test intro tell us to assume that it is going to rain, the train will be late, we will have a stomachache and our boyfriend will break up with us on the day of our test. That way, when only one or two of those things happen…we won’t be thrown off.

Well, I tried everything in my power to control every possible variable. But death, was not one I could get my hands on. My grandfather who had been suffering from Alzheimers for the past two years, started dying a few days before my test. I mention this part, because it turns out that the dying was way worse than than the death. To watch someone die is one of the hardest things I have ever done; the pain, uncertainty and helplessness are all consuming. I should have been taking practice tests and memorizing geometry formulas, but I couldn’t seem to get an emotional grip on the pressure of the test and the only grandfather I’ve ever known slowly slipping away. Honestly, could not tell if my tears were about my test or about him. I think I tried to make them about the test, because that felt more like it was within my control. But really, crying is not my normal reaction to pressure, if anything, it would manifest as anxiety…definitely not tears. I believe it was a combination of how hard I had been pushing myself, trying hard not to break under the self-inflicted pressure and then having something else break the dam wide open.

I am lucky enough to have extremely perceptive and ambitious friends and family. In that, I did not receive the typical platitudes on how to deal with this situation. In a nutshell, I was told that I needed to view this as a test and an opportunity to grow. Obviously, this difficult and intimidating test and subsequent MBA applications were not enough, so the universe added on. Of course, in my phone call emotional state this all seemed ridiculous. In feeling so helpless, it seemed inconceivable that I could just decide not to let this beat me. But the next day, a family member reassured me, after a frustrating practice test; ‘that my brilliance and intelligence do not lie in the quantifiable, I am an exceptional critical thinker despite what this test may say and I analyze down to the last logical detail. I am a creative person, I do it intuitively.’ Light bulb. Who knows what got through to me in that moment, but I could see that that was true. I could not have explained my brain’s process to anyone else, but to have someone on the outside do it, brought everything into focus. It is true. I solve problems with an innate logical creativity that can’t be quantified in any standard system of measurement. I can barely explain it to myself. Insight. Awesome. So no more trying to conform to the test, we’re just going to do our best and though it is only a fractional measure of my capability and potential, it is still something I have to do. I’ll do the rest…my way.

When my grandfather passed away in sleep, and I was now home at my parent’s, my father came downstairs at 6:30am to tell me the news. This was also a moment of peace. The strain and struggle were over, the worry and anguish were gone. We simply had to deal with the empty space. He died at home, with his family around him, never taken to the hospital or hooked up to machines, just fell asleep and didn’t wake up again. It is kind of the way I think we would all like to go, at 87 surrounded by family, very little pain and simply drift away in sleep. We all hope that we do not have to go before our time, but I think we all knew that this was his.

I still had to block out a lot of this in order to finish studying and prepare for test day. I certainly did not put in the effort that I had planned…which in hindsight was probably overkill anyway. So on a rainy Tuesday I spent the day at a test center and on that windy Thursday I went to a funeral. This is definitely not how I expected December to go, but I was forced to make a choice. I had to decide to grow. In any situation where you are tested, the choices come down to defeat or growth.

I choose to grow.

Your Misfit,


Let’s Try and Be Everything Shall We?

I used to be one of those people you envy. One of those people who was so certain of what they were going to do with their life that there were no questions. Most people start to try and figure out this kind of thing in high school, in preparation for declaring a college major. I knew when I was 10 years old. Could have told you exactly what I was going to do, who I was going to be and even where I was going to go to school (NYU! TISCH!). What is hyper-strange about me, is that as time progressed, I became less and less sure. I feel like this is the opposite of the way it usually works. No kid knows for sure what they want to do at 10, but they figure it out along the way and there you go.

At 17, when first applying to NYU, Tisch School of the Arts I realized that I didn’t want to be a performer. I had loved it since I first learned to talk, but it wasn’t the right career for me. I needed to DO to CONTROL and to DECIDE, three things that are not inherently up to you as an actor/singer etc. Existential crisis. While in crisis and trying to find out what was the right fit for me, I discovered directing. It is hard for me to believe looking back on it that this had not occurred to me before. I applied to NYU as a theater director and in my first semester, also discovered art history. And…now I’m a double major.

This will turn into a full length essay if I detail everything I’ve done since then. But suffice it to say, I have never had a linear career path. More like the trajectory of a ping pong ball. This however, is not for lack of focus. That I have always had. Passion is also something never lacking. So why can’t I just be like the normal people and pick one thing to do for the rest of my life? Well, I will tell you.

Recently, I was sitting at Dogpatch Labs and someone waiting to meet with another DP resident started up a conversation and in the process asked me, “What is your greatest fear?” I think I gave a slightly obscure answer at the time, but the question made me think. Do you know what my greatest fear is? DOING THE SAME THING FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I can’t commit the next 10 years to anything, I do not care how cool, awesome or ridiculously high paying you are. Does this make me interesting and awesome? Or just a girl with commitment issues?

I recently reached a point of deciding what exactly I want to do next. I have about four or five options that I can think of, and those options have options. At the encouragement of a friend, I end up making myself a career-oriented bucket list. What are all the end points that I would desire (not the end-end, but stopping points). At this juncture I am sure that you will not be surprised by the fact that…I needed a second sheet of paper. After my “Oy, holy crap” moment, I relay this news to the same friend who replied with “Awesome.” (love that some people in my life are as crazy as me). When I replied with my concern about what it all meant…he wisely countered with “If it were easy more people would do it.”

I want to be and do everything. Not everything, everything (no desire be the a doctor OR a lawyer) but enough everything to justify the hyperbole. However, my everythings fall under the following themes:  art, theater, education, entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, entertainment and changing the world.  If you would like to be involved in (see About) or hire me for (girl’s gotta eat) the next thing that I will be or do, let’s talk. Your timing is perfect.

“If it’s not at least a little bit impossible, I’m bored” – Me


My First Crazy Idea

I have had many crazy ideas in my lifetime. Starting around the time I learned to crawl, with a steady progression as the motor skills developed. Some of them good and a lot of them terrible. But even the terrible ones still turned out okay (no deaths or injuries to speak of), because what I learned was that ‘that doesn’t work’. At lot of the time, my crazy ideas and dreams came from wishing to make the world work, the way that I thought it should, that makes the most sense to me. This usually blew up in my face, of course; because as a child and adolescent I didn’t really have the power to make people listen (especially in Catholic school, cause they don’t change for nothing), and also just didn’t understand why they didn’t understand me.

To me the world is a place of infinite change and that there is always a better way to do something than the way you are doing it now. I tried to solve everything from school parking to social interactions to the awful stage direction in the Spring Musical; it didn’t matter what it was, if I saw a better, more efficient, more logical solution…I would become passionate about it, which usually lead to frustration because the nuns wouldn’t listen, the principal (aka musical director) took great offense to my suggestions and because changing the way people interacted socially in High School…is not something you are ever gonna change; teenagers are teenagers!  Crazy me.

I am not sure if it has been this way my entire life or if it was something that became a well-refined philosophy in directing school, but I firmly believe that every problem has a solution…we just haven’t thought of it yet. Just because you don’t know how to do it now…doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Most people don’t see the world this way and I may have just gotten used to/numb to the feeling of disappointment or frustration. Or it is simply the fact that these feelings no longer matter; I have something bigger in mind.

There are a couple of projects and plans (aka crazy ideas)  currently in the “Megan Janel Zimmer pipeline”, some of which are just problems, without solutions (yet). See the ABOUT page for details. So this is a place where I will likely try and work these problems out and throw in a random observation or two. I will also be attempting to teach myself Ruby on Rails and re-teach myself Algebra (it’s been 10 years). Let’s see where it goes. If there is a universe stumping question that you’d like to see me address…send it my way. Even so far as, “Who is John Galt?”

Thanks for stopping by!



P.S. Posts previous to this one were written on another blog (but by me!), as my favorites, I decided to move them over here. :)