We’ve all heard the famous, “change nothing and nothing changes” adage, quoted at one time or another by the famous philosophers (or Kardashians) of the times. And it seems everywhere you go you hear about people going after what they want and living the life they dreamed of, or so they post on social media.
Everyone is preaching that if you’re not happy with your present reality it’s never too late, you’re never too old, to turn your life around. Heck, even our university has used this very same concept, in one spinoff or another, with their marketing campaigns geared towards us mature folks. However, how many people post about this on social media and also do this in real life remains a mystery. I’m not opposed to this mentality at all; if anything, I will be the first one cheering for you from the bleachers, should you decide to turn your life around. I’ll also be the first to swat the pesky horse flies away (also known as naysayers), should they decide to warn you about the difficult road that lies ahead. Most naysayers will do this out of genuine concern, not malice, or jealousy. They tend to be family or people in your life who truly care about you; hence, the difficulty in not heeding their advice to stay put. However, these same people are also the complacent ones—those who choose to complain about their circumstances, rather than act on their issues to correct them. They are the ones who choose mediocrity over excellence. One comforting truth for the majority of AU students is that we tend to choose excellence rather than mediocrity.
I’ve personally tried to never settle for mediocrity; I’ve always tried to push for better. Better results, a better career, a better quality of life, better development, better everything. I tend to map out the path to X, like a pirate in search of treasure; yet, the moment I reach the desired destination it feels like I’ve found a half-empty treasure chest. And so, I continue on my road to Ithaca, in search of wreaths and laurels. Those around me tend to express their concern and claim I ought to celebrate and rest, in fear of burnout. However, all the midway celebrations and victories feel hollow to me. When you have set the summit as your final destination, getting caught up and delayed at the mountain ledge for a pizza party simply annoys you. I was relieved when I discovered my feelings of never being content weren’t so strange after all. I just finished listening to an audiobook by US Navy Seal David Goggins, who was dubbed “the toughest man alive.” His philosophy is that success should be celebrated with harder work – not a pizza party (Goggins, 2018). Yes, you read right. When you’ve achieved a big goal, keep the momentum going. If you stop and rest in that small victory, you’ll end up getting comfortable and perhaps never achieve your ultimate goal – you know, the big one. The one you’re too embarrassed to even tell yourself about, never mind your family or significant other.
Pushing through is what AU students are made of. Many students are here for the long haul, for the full degree. And just when those around us tell us what we truly want to hear—to stop and rest after this last course—we sign up for the next one, because we’re not at that mountain summit just yet. And if we don’t ever get there, we’ll always wonder “what if?”
So, how does all this relate to money, the erstwhile topic of this column? It always leads to money. Pushing through for us AU-lifers doesn’t just involve overcoming long workdays, demanding family obligations, challenging courses and (sometimes) difficult instructors. It involves money—lots of it! We all know university education ain’t cheap, especially now, with AU increasing their tuition fees in a few months. I thought a lot about this lately, and the looming tuition hikes had a lot to do with it. I’ve never qualified for any funding or grants and the only help I did get was an AUSU scholarship a couple semesters ago, which showed up just in time! So, do I stop at the ten-course certificate requirement (coming up), or do I keep going for the undergrad? Heck, I could use the money elsewhere and spend my free time catching up on all the things I’d like to do one day! I have a great job right now, I have my designations, and I’m not entirely without a post-secondary education. Then, to make it worse, the nag inside of me started rearing her ugly head, “When are you finally going to spend more time with your friends and family?” “Aren’t you sick of telling people you have no hobbies because you work and study?”
I’ve thought about this for a couple months now since my last big step towards “victory.” A few weeks ago I accepted an amazing opportunity and had to sell our home and relocate my family across the country within six weeks. But this was something I had been dreaming of for years. This was a very expensive move, with lots of stress and struggle involved, but the benefits undeniably outweighed the costs. However, we would’ve never been here if it wasn’t for my AU education and my relentless renunciation of rest. Investing in myself is finally starting to pay off, as I suspected. It’s not a matter of working harder; it’s a matter of reaching a point where you work smarter.
The education we get at AU helps us do this. Investing in your professional growth will not only yield returns but will also present you with ‘right now’ benefits. The time, effort and money invested will have a direct impact on the quality of life you and your family will experience well into the future. Our education is not only for the benefit of present or prospective employers. It helps create a strong foundation to build on and impacts the ability to perform, prosper, achieve goals and live to the fullest.
Because, the reality is, you can’t live life to the fullest if you don’t have the money to fund it. The debate of whether post-secondary education is worth the outrageous costs has been ongoing for decades. I won’t tell you it’s worth it, and I won’t tell you it isn’t. A full post-secondary education is not something cheap, and takes up both your time and lots of money! What I will tell you, is it can change your life for the better and if you’re willing to make a few adjustments you can make all the tuition back tenfold!
Goggins, D. (2018). Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds. Lioncrest Publishing.