It has been about a month since I made the choice to take a step back from school, after having decided to apply for the Masters program. When I mentally withdrew I felt relief. A weight was lifted from my shoulders and I felt like I was able to focus on my chosen career path. There was, however, a nagging voice buried deep in the back of my mind. I wondered how I would feel when April rolled around, when the application was supposed to be processed. I wondered how I would feel when I got emails from the graduate department—would I feel a sense of loss?
I have always loved school. All the way from when I was a kid until now. I remember I would spend summers writing because I just had an urge to put pencil to paper—I wrote nonsense or practiced old school work. I still remember the look of disbelief when my brother asked me what I was doing, and I told him. “But it is summer!”
My intent here is not to sway anyone’s educational choices, I may circle back around and reapply for a Masters in the future. I think it is an admirable pursuit. But for me, presently, it was threatening to sink me.
Since I made that decision, I have received emails from the graduate department. I haven’t yet received the admission status email, but I haven’t regretted my decision. I haven’t felt guilt when I am reminded of what I walked away from. Instead, I have been able to dedicate myself to my current pursuit, and I have been able to make progress. I feel like I am doing something good, like I am where I belong. The other day as I was working, my husband walked by and asked me what I was smiling at. I had, unconsciously, been grinning away while I lost in what I was working on.
There is still a looming unknown. How far will I be able to make it in this profession, as doing it remotely, starting remotely, feels rather like uncharted territory. But I have a great support system, enough encouragement (professional and personal), and blind determination to give it a try. And, even if it doesn’t work out the way I envision it now, nothing has worked out the way I have envisioned it anyway, and I have ended up somewhere pretty incredible, so I am okay with that.
It is easy to judge ourselves, to overburden ourselves. But, if someone else was telling this story to me I would congratulate them on knowing what they want to pursue and making the choices that best suited that. The choices that best suit them. We are always harsher to ourselves than anyone else, we very likely say harsher things to ourselves than other people ever would. I’m not sure why that is, but all I know is that since putting my desires first, since prioritizing and unburdening myself, I have felt more balanced and more driven to do what I want, to work toward building a career, and much healthier as the stress is gone and I am able to smile while I work rather than push through while thinking about everything else that needs to be done.
I am surprised though, at the lack of remorse and guilt I feel at having walked away from school. I felt guilt leading up to it. But, as soon as I settled on my choice, I haven’t looked back.