I can believe I’m in grad school again. Yep, you read it right. I can believe I’m in grad school again. I always knew I’d make it back here. Wasn’t sure of the how, the what, or the when, but I’ve always been keen on the why.
I’m not getting any younger.
I’m 29. Next month, I’ll be 30. I’m 30. At this age, I should be settling into my career, making moves, earning promotions, branding myself, etc. In actuality, what I’m doing is pretending I’m 22 with a fresh bachelor degree, pursuing my dreams of becoming whoever it is I’ve decided to become. While the ambition of a naive, not yet tested 22 year-old is admirable, it’s also not my reality. Because I’m not 22 and my degree definitely has a few cobwebs since my current position doesn’t even require one. I mean, it’s highly recommended and to my knowledge, everyone in my office has one, but it’s not required. At 22, I wouldn’t have minded doing this and working my way through the “steps” to achieve career success in this field. At 30, I’m over it.
The first time I went to grad school, I was dead set against doing anything other than what I’d already done. “If my undergrad degree is in this and I do this type of work, I am absolutely going to pursue this degree.” It made sense; it was logical. This time around, I’ve completely abandoned everything I thought I knew. Almost everything I did last time around, I’m challenging myself not to do it again because it landed me here. And here is not where I want to be 5 years from now.
I understand the value, but also the limitations, of education.
It took me a long time to realize that education was not everything. I made pretty decent grades in undergrad and was under the false impression that those grades alone would catapult me to the front of the job candidate line. False. I have yet to be asked about my grades in relation to any position I’ve ever held. I limited my education to the classroom. I didn’t take on any internships, I didn’t network with those in my field, I didn’t present at any conferences, I did very little research, and I didn’t even bother to join any relevant professional associations. Now, I can and sometimes do, blame it on the fact that while I was in school, I was also working full-time and I had a kid. And that’s partially the truth. The whole truth, though, is that I could and should have made time to do the things I needed to do for my career.
It took me a long time (a very long time) to learn to trust myself. There’s no doubt that I listened to everybody’s opinion on what I should do and then made knee jerk decisions out of fear. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t believe that I could declare what I wanted, go after it with fierce determination, and then achieve it. I mean, I couldn’t even take the first step of declaring what I actually wanted. So I settled. Good enough was comfortable-ish. Don’t get me wrong, there was certainly some internal resistance because there’s not a pit deep enough to not allow your real passions and ambitions to bubble up to the surface every once in a while. But, I could usually shut that up with a reminder of what it’d take to get to where I want to be. Basically, I could remind myself of the work and almost immediately settle back into that good enough comfort.
This go ’round I made the decision. I declared that I’m doing this and to let the chips fall where they may. I surrendered. I’m not 22 and while I still have my whole life ahead of me, there’s most certainly less of it. I guess I just didn’t give myself an out this time. It’s not this or that. It’s this and that’s that.
Classes have already started and I’m really enjoying them. I know absolutely nothing and it’s tremendously refreshing to commit to something that’s completely out of the box for you. It’s that “scary” refreshing though, where you’re not sure how it’ll end but you have something in mind.
Although I’ll be blogging about grad school in general here, especially how it relates to working motherhood, I’ll be going into more detail as it relates to my *new field* on another blog. It will serve mostly as a portfolio, space to explore what I’m learning, and to brand myself in the industry. So if you’re the least bit interested in learning design, e-learning, and technology, be sure to pop over. I’ll share the link when it’s up and running.
Are you a working mom who’s also a student? What tips would you give for juggling your responsibilities?