So I’m taking a class now. It’s something I’ve started and stopped several times – this new version of me. I’m not entirely sure what I’m working towards, but I know it’s different than what I was and what I am now. I suppose it’s supposed to be a better version of me, but I’m not really sure what would be better or why I need to really be better. I do know that ever since my career hit a huge speed bump – read position elimination at a crucial point in my path – I have been adrift and unsure of almost everything.
And so I’m taking this class. It’s important to note that this class has nothing to do with previous classes I’ve taken and only loosely aligns with my current job role. I’m taking it purely to add a skill to my resume and see if this might lead to career number two.
It’s hard to figure out what you want to be when you grow up when you sort of already have grown up. I mean, the checkboxes for what makes an adult are there and most have been checked, yet here I am surrounded by a mix of young and more established people who have no idea what their future holds and all I can think is, “yeah, I’m still working on it, too.”
It’s exciting to learn again. It’s also terribly daunting. This class is pass/fail, which does nothing for my self-esteem or my need to achieve. I must know how well or not well I did. It must have a letter and a number value assigned to it.
I’m not the most amazing student unless I’m fully engaged in what I’m learning. Grad school was my ultimate jam. We were all totally devoted to what we were doing and I loved that there was this group feeling that we were all going to take this knowledge forth into the world and change lives. That was 11 years ago for me. I didn’t get to finish that program because life happened and sometimes it truly sucks to be a grownup. You have to put things on hold…for 11 years.
For me that meant I had to start over. So I chose something else, or maybe it’s choosing me. I still don’t really know. I don’t have the passion I had before. I don’t have the burning need to do this. So why not? Maybe that’s age or maybe that’s exhaustion. Desperation? I’m not sure about that last one. I am desperate to know what the heck I’m going to do with myself, but I need the sense of direction less. This time I chose something that makes sense (on paper) with what I currently do and the skills I have built. That alone makes this a way more grown up decision. My false start was more of a burning need to do something else. Something that inspired me and spoke to needs I hadn’t found an outlet for yet. I don’t know if those needs are still there, but they’re much quieter now. All the voices are quieter now, but that’s a whole different story.
Perhaps it’s that I feel settled now. At least, more settled now than then. That’s not a small thing. Maybe it’s having my own family now. They are my support and I am theirs. No decisions get made in a vacuum anymore, which is both comforting and annoying depending on the situation. Seriously, why does it take a state of the union to decide it we’re going to Target on Saturday or Sunday?! (For the record, I’m the one that drives that particular discussion because I’m a planner and I like plans. I’m just sayin’.)
It is also odd taking this little moment for myself. I leave work at 4:00 PM and get to campus just before 5:00 PM. That gives me two hours before my class even starts. I do that to avoid the insane traffic that surrounds the city of Boston and any road leading anywhere near it, but I also decided it forced me to take time for myself that didn’t involve doing laundry or picking up toys in peace. This is 100% Mommy time. I can eat my little brown bag dinner all by myself in this sad excuse for a Student Center, listen to the music I want to listen to, write, browse the internets or whatever the hell the kids call it these days and generally just exist on my own for a few hours. I can read a book if I want!
So maybe there is a little truth to being a better version of me in there somewhere. There’s probably a lot more of remembering who I am as me, not as a wife, not as a mom and not as a colleague. I think sometimes we forget who we are under all these roles. Some of us are probably better at remembering than others, but I’m betting more of us get lost than others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with all of these roles, I just feel like there’s room for a little more balance and possibly a piece of the picture without all those extra layers.
We’ll see what I learn tonight in class.
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