This post is also published on Medium.com.
For years, I have been debating whether to go back to school to get a master’s degree. Although my husband and I make a decent living and have wonderful parents who could loan us money if need be, I keep wanting just a little bit more. In my mind, making an extra $30,000 a year would give us a bit more stability. I’ve considered getting an MBA or a master’s in professional/liberal studies. Then I think about the time it takes studying subjects I am not interested in just to get a piece of paper that says I know something, and it makes me cringe.
Don’t get me wrong, college was great. But going back seven-plus years later is not something I would describe as exciting. The only reason I am considering it now is because my employer lets anyone go back tuition-free as long as it is a public university within our state. But here’s the catch: I’m not passionate about the work that I do, and I don’t particularly enjoy it. Technically, I’m not even really using my bachelor’s degree, and it makes me question the worth of getting a master’s, which leads me back to my original question — should I even go back?
I’ve even asked some of my friends who went back to school whether they thought it was worth it. Most of them said not to go unless I was pursuing something I truly enjoyed. This answer didn’t satisfy me because what I truly enjoy most is creative writing, and getting a master’s in that would (most likely) not lead to the big bucks. Plus, I would have to completely pivot my career into an entirely different direction.
This is the endless cycle of thought that is my brain whenever I consider grad school.
All of this debating in my head finally led to some clarity last week when I was lying in bed on a Saturday waiting for my husband to wake up. I hate to say it, but I’m definitely one of those people who check their phone first thing in the morning. It’s a habit I’ve been meaning to break. My excuse is that I get a lot of ideas in the morning and like to use my phone to get them down. Anyway, I was thinking about what I want to do with my entire life — heavy-hitting stuff to consider — so I opened my Google Keep app, created a new note, and typed out what I want. I kept it simple and ignored all the thoughts in my head about what’s right and wrong, what I think I can do and what I can’t. Without even thinking, I typed out three things: write a novel; work for myself; and travel.
Now I could go into the statistics of how hard it is to write a book and get it published, but I’ve been doing that my entire life. I tend to think I’m not capable of doing things that I really want to do. In elementary school, I wanted to take taekwondo, but didn’t end up doing it. In high school, volleyball interested me, but I wasn’t remotely athletic and never even tried out for the team. I had the opportunity to study abroad for one semester in college, but I didn’t go because I thought the classes would hinder me from graduating “on time.” Countless other opportunities have come my way and I didn’t take them because, at the end of the day, I’m afraid to fail.
Probably the biggest risk I ever took was moving to a different state for my first full-time job. I didn’t know anyone there and got paid terribly, but it was something I felt I had to do since I hadn’t gotten any job offers in my hometown. Although I got homesick, I stuck it out for two years, and made some great friendships. I don’t regret it one bit because the work experience I gained there helped me land a job back home.
It was such an easy decision for me to make then, yet somehow, I hesitate to bet on myself and pursue a passion I’ve had my whole life.
This post really is an encouragement to myself. I don’t want to look back on my life and not have written a book. Deep down I know that writing is what I was meant to do, and going back to school isn’t going to help fulfill that dream.
If you are like me and you hold yourself back, know that it’s okay to take a chance and bet on yourself, especially when it comes to doing what you love. There are always going to be failures, but wouldn’t you rather do something and fail than not try it at all?
For the past year I have started bullet journaling, which has helped me manage my time better. Instead of spending three hours watching something on Netflix, I could be writing. If you are like me and feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, I encourage you to do what you can to make time for things that matter to you. You might need to set an alert on your phone to block out some time, or keeping a bullet journal or planner might work better for you. Do what you can to to keep yourself accountable. I know it’s easier said than done. The kids need to be fed; dinner needs to be made; the house needs to be cleaned. But taking one hour — or even thirty minutes — to do something you enjoy can make all the difference.
Take that chance. Write that book. Start your journey.