I applied to 4 colleges in high school and I was accepted to all of them. But Tyler (did you know we were high school sweethearts?!) went to George Mason University, and so I went to George Mason University.
I loved college. I loved living on campus, and joining a sorority (Chi Omega!) and being independent. I worked all through college, and got to the point where in order to take better positions in my career, I’d take fewer and fewer classes even though I should have graduated in 2006. Finally, in 2008 I became sick with MRSA, and medically withdrew. My career continued, and I figured I didn’t need college. I had no plans to ever go back. I made amazing friends, wonderful memories, and I thought I had learned everything I needed to. I also felt that not having a degree hadn’t held me back at all, so what was the point?
|Before a sorority formal – Sar in pink, me in black|
Then I had a daughter. It was really important to Tyler that I graduate, to set a good example for her. It was not important to me. I hated school. I struggled with it immensely – focusing in class, forcing myself to do the work, and the frustration and anxiety I felt when everything quickly became too much for me to handle. I had flippant remarks for why college wasn’t for everyone but the truth was that I preferred to quit while I was ahead than to fail at something. I was okay with this.
|Mixer with…Theta Chi? I don’t remember!|
Then last Spring, I went to talk to my doctor. I had a lot of things going on that I’d always had an excuse for, and I realized I didn’t have any more excuses – and the “things” were still going on. I was diagnosed with ADD and put on Adderall. It was embarrassing for me at first. That seemed like a drug for kids. And, I hate to say it, because my sister and cousin were on it and I love them dearly, but it seemed like the drug for bad kids. I figured since I DID have a good job, and was able to hold it, that I could continue to employ the bizarre coping mechanisms that I’d had in place over the years. I didn’t like taking the medicine, and when the doctors wanted to raise my dosage, I refused.
|I’m not actually in this one, but ohhhh Beach Week!|
But – it has changed my life. Before, I would take a laundry basket upstairs to be put away, notice my shoes and decide to rearrange them, find a bracelet and decide to put it in another room, remember something that I need to Google, get distracted by my Twitter, and on and on – that was my life. It really affected my marriage too, because I always set out with the best of intentions – such as, to clean. And everything would be SO much worse because of my spastic distraction that Tyler wished I never even bothered. And I couldn’t prove to him that I WAS trying to clean because dammit, everything DID look worse. So we’d fight often, and even then I’d be so overcome that I couldn’t explain my frustrations, and I’d just sob. My bizarre mental plan for organizing things just didn’t work anymore. As for my actual job, I bill my clients so I have to be accountable for every minute I work. Meaning that it would usually take me 12-16 hours to complete 8 hours of work, because every time I got distracted and wandered off, I couldn’t bill that time. This resulted in lots of late nights and all nighters, and my family suffered.
|My fraternity little brother|
Now? Wow, what a change. I am less reactive. If something upsets me, I can have a conversation about it, think through the actions, plan a solution. I don’t erupt with anger or break down into tears. If I want to put the laundry away, I put it away. And my work productivity is insane. I feel like a new person. I’m calmer, happier, less stressed and anxious, and more in control of my life. I felt like a failure for my diagnosis, but the truth is that I was a failure without it.
|My first roommate, Claire|
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I quit my job in December to work for myself, and have been an independent contractor. I design and develop training for government agencies, usually web-based and asynchronous learning classes. There are a TON of benefits to working for myself – working from home, setting my hours, etc. But sometimes, when a client suddenly needs more review time, or wants to redo a whole system, I am unexpectedly left with time where I am not getting paid. And that sucks.
|Sorority little sister|
Recently, one of my clients just ordered another stop work. I’m supposed to be developing training simulations on their SharePoint site, but they want to redesign the site now. So since my simulations have to look identical to the system – I can’t work until they update their site. And I’m left worrying about my next gig/paycheck. So I decided to think long and hard – do I want to continue working for myself? Do I want to get a regular 9-5 job again? What do I want to do?
|More sorority sisters|
And I realized…I don’t know. And my amazing husband works hard for our family so that I don’t have to make that decision right now. But what I do want to do right now? Go back to school and get my degree. And with his blessing, I went to George Mason University yesterday and was able to get back into school, and register for classes.
I’ll be full time, taking classes Monday – Friday. And, I get to graduate in May.
I’m nervous about going back to school, 10 years after I first started college. I’m scared about what a challenge it will be to our family to learn to adapt to my loss of income. I hate that all of my student loans were paid off, and now I have to get more. But more than the rest? I am SO excited to go back. For the first time, I feel good about this. I know this is what I want to do, and I know I’ll do well. Its time.
So after I left the Registrar’s office, I went straight to the bookstore, and picked up a little school pride.
Although perhaps I need to break out my new Michael Kors glasses to bring out my nerd chic 😉
Its going to be crazy. Classes and homework, still working on the side and managing my family. But I’m ready for the challenge, and I know I’ve got this. Especially with Tyler by my side – I couldn’t ask for a better support system. He has been my biggest advocate, and I am SO grateful that he is able to provide for us while I make this change.