The Story of Why


capIt occurred to me today as I was driving home from the gym that I had never really shared the why of graduate school with you. I have shared the where and the what for but not the why…or at least not the why now.

My parents, I think, were the most surprised by my decision to return to school because while I always touted that I would obtain my PhD I didn’t particularly stand out while in school. Since coming to the States when I was 12 years old school was a struggle and my parents frequently found me in tears as I explained to them what was expected of me at school and they would stare blankly back at me equally as confused as I was by my assignments. Call it culture shock.

Culture shock began to wane by late high school but once I hit college I was faced with all new shock – living on my own. One thing you should know about my extended family is that they all live within a few blocks of each other in the same small town in England, they sort of have it annexed. We are a close family – something which I believe added to the culture shock of schooling for me. Leaving for college was a terrifying experience and balancing that with still trying to fit in with my foreign peers, all the while working a part time job and trying to maintain flighty relationships with college boys…well it was a mess. My mess of a college life was topped off by one extraordinarily huge cherry when my grandfather Charlie passed in my junior year. The whipped cream, I suppose was my mom’s diagnosis of MS…anyway, these things made my educational career excruciatingly painful for me and yet I chose to go back…why?

At 27 years old I had been working for myself for 7 years, between coordinating marketing campaigns for companies online, freelance writing and some web design I was doing alright for myself. The bills were paid, I set my hours and at the end of the day didn’t have anyone to answer to. The thing about being ‘self employed, the thing that no one ever tells you about being self employed amid all their bragging about how great it is, is that there is no one to share the workload. At the end of the day it’s you that you answer to and we are always our own biggest critic. My work days never ended and I began to really feel drained. The job I was doing wasn’t fun, it wasn’t something that intrigued me – in fact it had been so long since I took a real vacation from work or even had an afternoon free to do something fun that I absolutely hated my job. My job had served its purpose but what I really wanted, what I really needed to make my life special was to do something that I loved to do and for me that was psychology.

If you’re ever wondering whether you have had *that moment,* whether you should really consider going back to school…I can tell you for me my moment came when I was most seriously considering running away and starting my life over somewhere where no one knew me. It wasn’t that I hated my life, it was that there was no real substance to it. Children wouldn’t fill that void, nor would being a housewife – I am simply not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I need something in my life that is MINE, that belongs to me and as I woke up that November morning and looked around contemplating just how far I could go and what I would do when I got there I realized that this was my chance to become me, the me I always wanted to be but was too scared to pursue after being dragged through college behind the mack truck that had hit me quite a few times.

I decided that instead of running from it all that I would turn around and face it head on. I would do what I wanted and I wouldn’t let the intimidation of “school” take that opportunity away from me. I want a meaningful career, one that I enjoy and certainly one that, when my education is complete, affords me an afternoon or two to myself every once in a while.

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3 Responses to “The Story of Why”

  1. 1
    yefi says:

    no dorm experience for me (low funds) but it was a shock nonetheless! college is so different!

  2. 2
    DG says:

    “I can tell you for me my moment came when I was most seriously considering running away and starting my life over somewhere where no one knew me.”

    You just pretty much described my dream. I hope to head to good ol’ California/Hawaii and just take classes without people pestering me all the time!

  3. 3
    Thomas Tan says:

    Good for you! Graduate school is such a rewarding and enriching experience and completely different from college, I’m sure you’re finding out. Easily one of the best times of my life.

    I regard my grad school experience as a stepping stone in both my education and personal development. I had my share of mistakes and failures in grad school. But as Dr. Jonas Salk once said, “I have had dreams and I have had nightmares. I have overcome my nightmares because of my dreams.”

    The best part of grad school is that you will face challenges and tough decisions and you will build on each experience so that you have more to offer and receive from the next.

    Best of luck in your scholastic pursuits!
    .-= Thomas Tan´s last blog ..The Psychology of Ultra Endurance Events: Is It All about Suffering or Addiction? =-.


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