Some months ago, I was experiencing a personal crisis that required some self care in the form of talking to a friend who knows me well and speaks the truth in love. After almost an hour of me expressing everything I was thinking and feeling, my friend in the kindest yet firm way said to me, “I have known you for over a decade, and in that time, I’ve heard you talk about this dream. How about you stop talking about it and just do it?” It was the cold truth I needed to jolt me into action to get back in school in my forties. See, part of my crisis was that I wasn’t doing what exactly I always wanted to do professionally.
Why Not Now?
For as long as I can remember, I had a strong desire to be a marriage and family therapist. I didn’t go this route during undergrad because I didn’t have the support and I talked myself out of it because I was intimidated by the amount of reading psychology students had to do. When I went back for my master’s, the excuse this time was cost. My job at the time paid for business degrees, not counseling or psychology degrees. In the last two decades of working, I have not done work that was fulfilling. Jobs were just that, jobs to pay the bills. Those words motivated me to go for my dreams even though I was scared. When people ask me “why now?”, I say why not now but more importantly there are three big reasons why I’m choosing to make my dreams come true now. My self, my children, and those that came before me, like my mom and grandmother.
How Will I Juggle This?
I have four kids, a husband, social responsibilities, and a full-time job. How was I going to juggle being back in school in my forties? This time, I wasn’t going to let fear or minor and major inconveniences come in between me and my dreams. I could be a therapist in a few years or I could continue to live in regret in the same amount of time. Most of my adult life, I have taken care of others. As the oldest daughter in an immigrant family means continuous sacrifice for the greater good. This time, although I often feel like the content and reading material is overwhelming, not to mention my incompetency with technology, there’s a drive to achieve my goal. To do something that I have always wanted and in my own time.
My children are a great motivator. I want them to know their mom as someone who didn’t give up on her dream, who took her schoolwork seriously, but not to the detriment of her health. Sometimes I stay up late and wake up early to complete my assignments, but sometimes I go to bed on time and take a late grade because self care is important to me. They see me adjust my schedule, I delegate many tasks I am no longer able to accomplish. They see me and their dad have a partnership where he has to take on more responsibilities to ensure I don’t fall behind. These are lessons that will be benefit them as they navigate their lives from adolescence to adulthood.
Lastly, the motivating factor for me to be back in school in my forties is the women who have come before me. My late grandmother was a midwife and ran a successful clinic for most of her working life. She did this in a time where many women weren’t getting higher education or running a successful business. Her hard work and tenacity were passed down to my mother who immigrated to the United States and had to start her career all over again. She started as a Certified Nurse Assistant and is now a Family Nurse Practitioner. Just like my kids are experiencing, I saw my mom go back to school. It wasn’t easy but she did it and is doing a job she is passionate about.
If you are contemplating making that move, I encourage you to share your dreams with friends who will hold you accountable. Write down the drive, whatever it is, and let that motivate you to make your dreams come true.