Returning to Student Life: Hello, Grad School!

Goodbye, free time.  Hello, higher education.

Last week, I started grad school!  I’m pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  My classes are all online, which enables me to do school while continuing to work full time.

All week, people in my life have been asking how it’s been so far.  My reply has usually been a dubious expression and a weird, semi-coherent grunt. I knew that grad school would be a lot of work, but there’s intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge.  And, boy, am I learning experientially!

It’s not that my classes are anything I can’t handle.  The workload is large, but definitely doable.  The challenge is adjusting to new pressures and a new routine.  Significant portions of my weekends and days off are now spent hunched over my laptop and pouring through textbooks.

As I learn to be a student remotely, I have to learn to be intentional about taking care of daily business.  I’ve taken for granted having time to cook, shop, clean, do laundry, exercise, etc.  I now have to think about when I’m going to get those things accomplished. Continue reading

Job Hunting & Tough Choices

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere lately… mostly because life is moving forward faster than expected and, when I finally catch my breath, the last thing I want to do is process things by writing.

Over the past few weeks, I have learned a great deal about job hunting.  When I started this journey, all I wanted was employment.  “Dear magical job fairy,” I prayed, “just give me work!”  I now realize how naive and arrogant that appears.

Yes, scrolling through job forums is boring.  There are so many jobs that just don’t strike me as very interesting.  Sure, I could do well as an administrative assistant and would succeed doing marketing via social media.  But would my heart be in my work?  I’ve learned that I need to identify what I want in a job and be ready to fight for that. Continue reading

Adjustments

I’ve been reading a lot lately… as in I just read a fantasy trilogy that is 2,000+ pages in just over a week.  (Yes, I’m insane.)  It’s easy to get lost in a world that exists only in your head.  You just turn the page and turn the page and turn the page until… well, until there are no more pages.

Books have been very important to me as I’ve adjusted to my new job.  They’ve given me the chance to step out of my position and into someone else’s shoes.  You see, I’m so tired of feeling physical stress coursing through my body.  I’m tired of not knowing what my duties are because I’m only half trained and have no supervisor.  I’m tired of dreading Monday.  I’m tired of being pessimistic and crabby.  These things aren’t ME.

Adjusting to changes takes time.  I’m on my way, but not quite there yet.  Hey–at least I’m no longer bursting into tears over my breakfast cereal.

One of the best pieces of career advice I’ve ever received was from one of my professors while studying abroad.  She was a quirky little Irish lady with spring-like brown curls and I adored her class.  One day, while in her office getting help on a paper, she said: “It’s okay to not know what you want to do.  The important thing is finding out what you DON’T want to do and go from there.”  (For her, the number one thing to avoid were jobs that required hair nets.)

With this in mind, my new job is very illuminating.  In addition to all the professional skills I’m developing, I’m learning a lot about what I don’t want in a job.  I don’t want to be in an office alone–I need a job where other people are involved.  I don’t want to work in a Chamber of Commerce.  I don’t want to own a business.  I don’t want to do anything that involves finances.  I want a job where I report to a boss, receive proper training, and am given clear expectations.  I want a job with structure–with a checklist of tasks and responsibilities, with a set start and end time.

My mom is starting to ride me about figuring out what to do next.  Which doesn’t do much for my stress load.  I genuinely want to move on.  But I feel like I’m not free to do that until we find a new Executive Director… which could take some time.

So I lose myself in the pages of books.  I spend my evenings in someone else’s mind.  I breathe in, breathe out, and wait for the day I’m adjusted enough that I no longer need to escape.

I’ll get there someday.

On Growing Up

These days it feels like every time I open Facebook, someone I know has either gotten engaged, married, or pregnant.  When it started happening a few years ago, the people were my brother’s age–older, more mature.  Now, it’s my peers who are tying the knot and starting families.

Every time this happens, a little pang goes through my stomach.

I still feel like such a kid.  In my head, I’m still that ten-year old girl who often asked herself: “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  In the eyes of the world, however, I’m a legal adult starting a career.  You would think that three months of farm work and endless time spent in my head would help me put two and two together.  But I’m still relatively clueless.

I’ve thought about a lot of things.  It’s my dream of all dreams to do Christian ministry work in Europe.  But I’m beginning to see that dreams don’t happen overnight.  Any European plans are likely to be down the road.  What, then, shall I do in the meantime?

Should I go back to school and become a teacher?  Should I take the GRE, apply to grad school, and become a librarian?  Should I just take a random job, just to start somewhere, and reevaluate?  If I do the last option, should that job be in my home community?  In the cities?  In a state far away?

So many questions.  So few answers.

Why is growing up so hard?