So a while back I posted a bucket list of things I want to accomplish in the final third of my life. One of those things was to get a master’s degree and teach college level writing, English or history. Of course, that brave young woman, (I wrote it in April, I think), had no idea just how difficult going back to school and working three jobs would be. I began my academic journey soon after and I have never juggled so much in my life. I had no clue what I was letting myself in for. (Keep in mind that I am just starting my academic career so I have years to go…)
That isn’t to say I didn’t rock spring term… I got a 4.0 and managed to finish a book, teach daily at an after school care program and teach a novel-writing course at my local community college.
But by the end of term, I was exhausted and within spitting distance to burn out. My father passed away just before the term finished so I can’t say my emotional malaise was totally because of overwork. However, the doubts kept pouring in. Is this something I really want? How important is being Professor Teri to me? And most importantly, what if I get there and hate it?
Isn’t that frightening as all get out? It’s the final third of my life, people, I no longer have the luxury of switching careers midstream because I am TOO CLOSE to the estuary that leads into the final ocean of my life… I’ve had cancer twice, I’ve seen the reaches of the horizon and I DO NOT WANT TO FUCK UP HERE.
Constantly reevaluating goals is essential to personal, professional and financial success. Things change, priorities change, circumstances change. As we gain more knowledge, we need to adapt and change up the game plan. While I’m not quite ready to give up my dream of Professor Teri sitting at an old chipped desk, surrounded by books in an ivy covered office, there are some things I need to consider.
- My age. Would a university really hire an old professor fresh out of school no matter how many books I’ve had published?
- Will I make enough money at the end to recoup the cost of attending college? (As an aside, does anyone know of scholarships for middle-class, middle-aged women?)
- Would I want to sit and grade bad essays by students who just want to pass the class and move on? I’ve judged many a contest and sometimes it’s just excruciating. My dream is to be a sort of traveling professor. Teach a term here, teach a term there, dragging my happily retired hubby from place to place. Can I do that? Is that a thing?
- Right now, I teach writing and creativity classes for Portland Community College’s Community Ed Program, which means I get a ton of students who REALLY WANT TO WRITE. I don’t have to follow college plans or outcomes–I get to make up my own lesson plans and only have to worry about my student’s growth and satisfaction. I also give workshops at local events and conferences. I make my own schedule. Don’t I already have the best part of teaching without the politics, grading and constraints?
- I really love learning and going to school. I love being challenged. School is fun in a way that it wasn’t back in the day. But do I really want to spend eight or nine years of my final third going to school?
- Will my writing suffer? Returning to school will make be a better teacher, for sure, but will it make me a better writer?
- Do I want to finish school for the right reasons or underneath it all, do I want to succeed because I have an academic inferiority complex?
So there you have it–the things that swirl around in my head at night when I can’t sleep. Would love some input.