At the end of this summer, when all the cute little kiddies toting lunch boxes and backpacks went back to school, and parents of college students bid their tearful goodbyes, someone else went back to school. Someone older.
Someone SO MUCH OLDER…
You heard right.
Careful what you wish for…
For nearly two decades I dreamed of going back to school to get a master’s degree in journalism. But every time I let my mind wander down the book-lined path there seemed to be so many hurdles to jump over that it kept me from taking the first leap. Like studying for the GRE (um, math, hello?!) gathering all my transcripts (do archives really go back that far?), obtaining recommendations (don’t make me laugh), and writing application essays (oh, dear Lord). And between family obligations and well, life, the time just never seemed right.
There were personal obstacles for me to jump over, too. Every day I woke up, my heart full of excitement, my soul ablaze, my mind electrified with what could be, and yet an annoying little voice in my head kept whispering words of wisdom, like “Omg, you’re way too old,” “You suck at standardized tests,” and my personal favorite, “Have you lost your mind?”
Why, yes. Yes I think I have.
Afraid of the humiliation of being rejected, I didn’t tell anyone I was applying to graduate school, except the few dear souls willing to write letters of recommendation and read over my application essay. My first attempt at writing my personal essay was, to be kind, something that should line a birdcage. I tried jazzing it up a bit but it still didn’t sound like me because I was trying to sound formal and scholarly and use really big words.
A friend and fellow writer read my miserable essay and said it was great if my aim was to put the admissions director to sleep. Go out of the box with this one, she said. Show them who you are, she said.
So I did.
I let loose and told them how I came to love writing. About my first diary, gifted to me at one of my estrogen-fueled birthday parties. The paisley keeper-of-secrets was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It was shiny and small and easy to hide beneath piles of castaway Barbies and Tiger Beat magazines in the back of my closet.
The pages were filled with witty anecdotes and biting diatribe. Friends, family, and our poodle were all fair game. At twelve-years old I was dripping with drama and sarcasm. My need for writing – and let’s face it, venting – only grew, as I got older.
I’m not sure what made this the year for me to finally have the guts to bust a move. Hormone imbalance, who knows? But somehow the time seemed right. For years, just the thought of taking the GRE (graduate record exam) was enough to make me say, Aw hell no. But my family encouraged me to not let one test keep me from doing what I had always wanted to do. Actually, annoyed by my constant whining, they begged “JUST GET IT OVER WITH ALREADY.” That’s all the push I needed.
Old dog, new tricks…
Studying for the GRE made childbirth look easy. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I felt like Elle Woods preparing for the LSAT and peering out the window while her sorority sisters frolicked below.
I fantasized about burning the GRE text books once I received my test scores. But then I saw the number on the screen. Tears of joy and relief sprang from my eyes. It renewed my faith in divine intervention, because my score was nothing short of a miracle. Hallelujah!
But applying meant I had to finally face my fears. The fear of failing, the fear of making a complete fool of myself. And, yes, the fear of, OH MY GOD, what if I actually do get in! Would I be in way over my head? How will this affect my family, my sanity, my blog? Most importantly, will I still have time for Netflix? And who will I have lunch with?
Panic attacks aside… This is a dream come true. I am taking classes I had always dreamed of taking. Studying the major I longed to take in college but was too shy to explore, because I was young and didn’t know any better. And best part of all, the back to school shopping!
It is a thrill to be back on the campus I once walked on as a wide-eyed college freshman. The same one I left after my sophomore year because I was foolish and restless a bold budding entrepreneur and thought I’d give work a try. What was supposed to be a one-year reprieve from college lasted fifteen. No stranger to taking the difficult route, I went back part-time when my kids were little to finish my undergraduate degree in psychology. This is the true definition of insanity.
Midlife crisis or boldest move I’ve ever made? Time will tell.
I can tell you that second time around is so much sweeter. Kind of like Liz Tayor and Richard Burton. And I appreciate where I am so much more than I did years ago. I’m pretty sure I’m old enough to be everyone’s mom on campus. My fellow students probably think I’m snack-mom or just some crazy lady in the midst of a midlife crisis. That’s ok, at least most of the teachers are older than me.
See you in class!