Three little words that mean a great deal.
Making the decision to return to college and sticking with it in fact does require being driven. Think about it. You probably work a full-time job or even a part-time job. You have a spouse or partner and children and a house to take care of. Normally that overwhelms most people. But for the person making the decision to return to college it can seem like the IMPOSSIBLE! Notice I said the words “seem Like.” Every situation is manageable if you allow it to be. I know for myself when I first started back to school I was frazzled ALOT! Anxiety now became a daily word in my vocabulary. I cannot tell you how many times I cried, how many times I said “I can’t do this”, how many times I said “I have bitten off more than I can chew.” The more frustrated I was the more determined I became.
The lightbulb went off in my head that said “The Universe is testing how much you want this.” Hmmm, really? Ok then, I had to become willing to fight back. It seemed like obstacles were always in my way; work was incredibly busy, my grown children fought me every step of the way (it was taking time away from all their needs), my husband sometimes got frustrated (but in all honesty he was my biggest fan and constantly reinforced me) I think it was more in my head that I was neglecting my husband than him really being frustrated :-). The house was falling apart, laundry was piling up and so on. I felt like pulling my hair out. I found myself resenting all of those things. I started getting angry at my children and husband and my home. See, here was the main problem, I had trained my family very well that I could handle everything; work, the household, paying bills, going shopping etc. They came to expect it. Well that had to change and fast.
What I had to do was sit my family down and discuss MY expectations. What I needed for a change. College is important to me and it was time that they supported ME. At first there was a great deal of resistance especially when it came to cleaning the house, laundry and dishes. Oh yea and helping to take care of our two dogs. I had to stay strong and not give in. BOY IS THAT DIFFICULT FOR A CARETAKER TO DO. LOL. But I had to stick to it. It didn’t go very smoothly ans sometimes it still doesn’t. I have had to stay strong, oh yea, very strong. I had to let the laundry pile up, leave the dishes in the sink, let the house get dusty and not vacuum. (Let me tell you, it took everything I had, every ounce of energy I had to let that happen).
I stood my ground. There were 4 grown adults in the house, they weren’t children. One son was 22 and the other son was 19. There was no excuse they couldn’t help. Eventually they got the message and started to help A LITTLE. I had to learn what was important and what wasn’t. School was important , everyone and everything else had another place in my life. I learned how to prioritize. I kept remembering ONLY THE DRIVEN. Only the driven succeed. Only the driven graduate. Only the driven maintain high GPA‘s. ONLY THE DRIVEN!
I even put that saying on the front page of my cell phone. My first Dean, her name was Dean Sizer told me to always remember to keep GRADUATION in the forefront and make that your goal. That word is my screen saver.
The main thing you need to remember is you are not alone and you do not need to be everyone’s savior and caretaker. Learn to delegate responsibilities. (I know it’s hard to give up the control 🙂 ) If you are going to graduate, that is what you have to do. If you have small children, then you study when they go to bed, or on the weekends when your spouse can help, or even ask a neighbor that your are close to if they can help. Your true friends will be more than willing to help. Don’t use these struggles as a reason to throw in the towel. Quitters don’t win. Being an older college student sure does have its challenges, but that is all they are – challenges. Challenges are meant to be fought against and won. Just think about the military people who are completing their degrees online WHILE FIGHTING A WAR! If anyone had the excuse to say “I can’t do this right now, it would be them.”
Pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and STAY FOCUSED! STAY DRIVEN! When you walk graduation, you will reap the rewards for all your hard work and sacrifice. Hearing your name and the degree you earned in front of hundreds of people is MINDBLOWING!