Friday, September 20, 2019

Back to School

I am very blessed.  I have a boss who encourages me to want more for myself.  I have been in the legal field for almost 25 years.  I basically went from high school to a law firm at the age of 18.  I moved into local government (although still in the legal realm) about five years ago.  It has never really occurred to me to do anything else.  I like my job.  I like the people I work with.  But my boss is looking out for me and thinking about my future.  So, she started encouraging me to go back to school to finish my Bachelor's degree (in this organization, I can't really move into any higher positions without one).  Well, let me back up.  About a year ago, she tried to get me to do a kind of work study program to take the bar exam and become an attorney, but I very purposely did not go to law school 20 years ago, so I certainly don't want to do that now.  However, we have tuition reimbursement, and what else am I doing with my evenings but playing kickball and drinking too much with my friends like I'm still in my 20's?  Why not go back to school? 

I started the process of looking into what I would need to do to get my Bachelor's degree almost a year ago.  Initially, I thought I would just get a generic business degree.  However, after meeting with counselors and speaking with the director of one of their programs, I decided I would get my degree in recreation.  It would apply to my current situation working in local government, as I could someday move into the Parks and Rec Department (let the jokes about the TV show begin...).  Then I have so many more options available to me, especially if I decide to leave the state.  In fact, a potential job that would have been good for me (and offered more money) came available the same week I started school.  Had it opened up a week before or a few months down the line, I would have applied for it (with my current boss' blessing).  But I am way too overwhelmed to think about learning a new job right now. 

Cocky me thought that between the A.A. I already had, along with the paralegal certificate I had obtained 21 years ago from the same school I'd be doing my B.S., I would maybe have a year and a half of work, and then I would magically have my degree.  Oh how wrong I was!  Apparently the rules were slightly different 20 plus years ago.  Not only do NONE of my paralegal courses count towards anything, ten units from my A.A. also don't count.  So, before I can even apply to Cal State, I have to go back to community college and take four classes.  I work full time.  So I can't exactly bang that out in one semester.  I thought maybe breaking it into two classes for two semesters (and taking online classes) would make it more palatable.  However, I am looking at one year back at community college and probably another five to six years at Cal State (if I'm taking two classes each semester).  I'll be almost 50 by the time I'm done!  Circumstances made it so I couldn't start until Fall 2019.  My first semester back to school in over 21 years started one month ago. 

And.  I.  Fucking.  Hate.  It.

Not just a little bit.  Like, I'm breaking down in tears at least once a week because I'm so tired and overwhelmed.  I'm not sleeping well.  I'm not eating enough.  I've been dropping weight and when people tell me I look good, I want to scream that I am not losing it the right way.  Some days I am like a toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor and other days I am like a teary eyed teenager who cannot get out of bed. 

First issue.  Online classes.  While I thought it would be more convenient so I'm not having to sit in a classroom all night after sitting in my office all day, it really just means I now go sit at my desk at home alone all night after sitting in my office all day.  It requires discipline, and I am not excited enough about these classes to want to do this.  I AM doing it.  But I don't want to.  I am normally very social, so I feel very alone and am definitely battling some old depression issues.  Also, rather than just sitting in a classroom, having a lecture/discussion, then going home to do homework, I'm having to log into this online program anywhere from three to six days a week to keep up.  It's time consuming and frustrating.

Second issue.  I don't enjoy the teaching style of one of the instructors.  However, it is the one class I am required to take, and it has to be taken a minimum of one semester before transferring, so I can't drop and take it with someone else next semester.  I find him to be a little condescending, he's unorganized and a lot of the written material feels disjointed and confusing.  I understand that these classes are modeled for the Millennials, so I guess it is just my own fault for being too old for this shit. 

Third issue, which is really probably issue number one.  My ego told me that I'm a grown up with real life experience, who was going to waltz back into school and kill it.  And I'm not killing it.  I am struggling to keep up and am not enjoying the poetic subject matter of the English class in particular (Psychology is a lot more interesting, and I like how the instructor runs that class, but it still requires a ton of time in front of the computer).  I have always liked to say I'm not a "cerebral person."  I don't get off on having intelligent conversations just for the sake of having them.  I'm just a regular person.  I'm okay with that.  The English class in particular is requiring me to dig a little deeper, so pushing me outside of my comfort zone is making me angry.  My yoga instructor was like, you need to figure out what that is triggering in you.  I've been debating it with myself for awhile now.  I think it's just realizing that I'm not better than all these annoying 18-year-olds I'm supposed to be having "intelligent" discussions with in these online forums.  We are all here learning and trying to better ourselves.  But, seriously, reading some of their shit makes me want to pull my hair out. 

In addition to all of this, I am preparing for NCPP next week (the final month before the show requires a lot of time intensive tasks).  I have surgery the following week (so I'm having lots of dreams about how I'm not going to wake up).  I have a friend who is dealing with the very tragic loss of a family member, and I am trying to be a good friend and hold space for him when he needs it.  Basically, I'm an emotional wreck who doesn't have a whole and happy brain to offer to school right now. 

As of now, I am committed to finishing out community college.  It's just a year.  I have six units this semester, but next semester I only need four.  Plus, the English class was the only required class.  As long as they are transferable to Cal State, I can take any other classes to fill the remaining units.  I really need to sit down and do some soul searching about what I want out of school and life.  I'm half way through my career.  Do I REALLY need this to feel happy and whole?  I don't know yet.  Next year, I have the opportunity to buy a house that has been in my family since the 1950's.  More money would be nice, but money isn't everything.  I am definitely focused on my future, but I don't know that more school will equal a better future.

If you've had experience returning to school later in life (especially if you did it while working full time), I'd love to hear about it.  I know people keep telling me to just be positive and stop complaining so much, but I seriously need to be able to vent or sometimes I feel like I might explode.  I'm struggling here.  More than I have in a few years.  Emotionally, it's very scary for me.  I know I'll make it through, I always do.  But when I'm in it, I feel like I'm drowning. 

Deep breaths while I'm underwater just makes me a mermaid, right?

One day at a time. 

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