March 17, 2021

College is terrifying

College is terrifying

Episode 3!  Today I want to talk about myself... But not in a narcissistic way. I promise.

I'm 38 years old, and I'm in college. I'm working on my BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Yes, I should have graduated college long ago. Today I talk about what happened in my initial college experience, what I've done with the ensuing 20 years of my life, and why I decided to go back now. I'll also touch on why it's scary and how I'm handling it.

Created, written and produced by Teresa Beard


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Hi, friends and welcome back to shut that scares me, where we talk about all kinds of scary things. I'm your host Teresa, and today we are discussing college. I know what you're thinking, that's not scary. Well, you are wrong. And I will tell you why I am in college right now. And going back to school as an adult, is absolutely terrifying. So I'm going to talk about myself in this episode, and not in a narcissistic way, I don't think but you'll have to let me know if that's what you think. Now, I did not particularly like school when I was growing up. I loved learning and I still do. But I want to learn at my own pace, meaning probably And that really didn't work out well for me. Also, when it came to college, I didn't have much support. My parents did not do the thing that you know, so many parents do, where they start talking about college when their kid is a freshman in high school. But how my parents brought up college, it was like most of the way through my junior year and the beginning of my senior year, I had no idea that I was even supposed to start applying for school. And by the time they brought it up, it was kind of too late. There. We didn't do any college visits, no admissions issues or decisions, like I didn't have my pickup schools or anything. So I also didn't have much support when it came to financial aid. My parents, you know, made decent money when I was growing up. But they kind of took issue with the idea that their financial information would be used to determine what my financial aid package was. And they weren't really interested in filling out the FAFSA, or doing any of the financial aid stuff. So without that I wasn't eligible and you know, not for nothing, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And honestly, even now, I'm not really sure. But I also think that it's insane that we expect teenagers to be able to make this kind of decision. Like some kids are really passionate about a thing. And that leads them to a career. But I wasn't one of those kids. The only thing that I have ever really been passionate You know, they didn't really equate online, like the internet with journalism or writing or anything like that. So we didn't really know how that was going to pan out. People just knew that newspapers were dying. So I also I didn't really feel ready for college right after high school. So I took a semester off and I worked. My first job I got when I was a junior in high school I worked at Target and this I equate working at Target as like the the reason why I love target so much now I was brainwashed as a child. So I took a semester off and I like helped manage the front end and I learned a bunch of other stuff in the store and I helped out with a bunch of projects and I helped like a worked overnights and stack shelves and I did a little bit of everything. I've learned a lot about the store and retail operations and whatever, just enough to know that I didn't want to do it for the rest of my life. I also in that time, the goal was for me to figure out my life. It didn't really work, obviously, because I was still like an 18 year old kid. But I knew that I needed to get some of the basic coursework out of the way, before I could really even think do neither of those things. But the goal was to just get the basic shit out of the way and so that I could move on. And my first semester was fine, I was still working full time, because I was paying for school out of pocket. And I had other bills I had to pay, I had a crappy little car, but I still had to put gas in it and pay for insurance and whatever else. And I also had an old cell phone, it Now, near the beginning of my second semester, I some pretty major stuff happened in my life. I wasn't able to live at home anymore. That was the biggest thing that happened. And so had to get an apartment. I got an apartment with a work friend. It was like a tiny, crappy basement apartment. And that the door lock didn't work. And like it was just so tiny. I just like remember feeling like, there was no space for either of us in that apartment. But we had to live there together. And that happened in my second semester of school. Now, I had to then work paying rent into my budget. And I also had to pay for food. And I had to pay for utilities. And there are all these other expenses that came up. That meant that I had to keep working at least full time, I had to start picking up extra hours. And the more hours I spent in like at work, the less time I have for schoolwork, the last time I could even spend in class. I remember very distinctly getting a phone call from one of my professors. I had slept through the third or fourth class. And she told me that if I didn't show up in the next class, she was dropping me from the course. And I was so serious. I was like, Yes, I will be there, I'll be there. And of course, I ended up having to work overtime. And I slept directly through the cat class. And she I did try to go back to school once in my early 20s, I think I was 22 or 23. But kind of had the same experience with work and school and and struggling to really balance it. Except at this point, I was working in a corporate office for an automotive care company. And as soon as my boss found out that I was enrolled in school, he started giving me lots of extra projects to do, and asking me to work overtime, he sent me on a couple of business trips, he was not terribly supportive about the idea of me getting an education because he knew that with a degree with an support team for a dating app, one that you've probably heard of one that you may have even used, but I work in their support team. I also help with site moderation and safety, basically keeping assholes and dick pics off of her website. And it's, it's a job that pays the bills. It's not something that I love, or that I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm good at it. And like I said, it pays the bills. But I'm not particularly passionate about it. It's not like I wake up every day and I jump out of bed. And I'm so excited to go to work because I love my job so much. Also, working in support is objectively terrible. Anybody who has ever worked support will agree with me. People are mean to support reps just as a general rule. And that's not even taking into account like what you're supporting the kind of product you're supporting, or what And this is my PSA don't mean mean to support reps we are people do. So now here we are 20 years later, I'm pushing 40. And I'm still working the same kinds of jobs that I work when I was in my early to mid 20s. I don't feel like I've really gotten anywhere. I have read a lot of books and gotten a lot of education, but no formal education. And even my current job. I've worked for my current company for almost six years. And I've had the kind of stability and job security that makes people complacent. And I don't really have that anymore. Some stuff has happened in the last year, that has made me concerned about the future of my role with this dating app. So rather than moving into another support role, and basically starting from scratch with a new company, I'm attempting to get my degree and make a much bigger career change and not work in a customer facing role anymore. Part of me will miss it. Part of me is really excited about the idea of never talking to customers ever again. So I enrolled in school full time in December. and with any luck, I will be graduating in December of 2021 with my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and marketing. And I'm very excited. I had briefly considered other types of education, like a certificate or trade school, or even just getting my associates and calling it a day. But I didn't find any program that I was really interested in or thought I could spend the next 20 years doing because I will be working for at least 20 more years. And that's a really long time. And the idea of working in some of these jobs like to trade school and being a plumber, I don't want to do that, that just not a thing that appeals to me. So I also basically have no skills. Like, I am a writer, I make terrible jokes. But aside from that, it's not like I'm really good at taking things apart and putting them together. So being a mechanic is out. I have no concept of time. Like, there's just all these other things that make us a certificate or trade school, just not the best idea for me. So I also made the decision to switch fields, going from support into marketing. And even though I have a ton of job experience, and even a lot of experience that's relevant to the kinds of roles that I would want to do in a marketing department, nine out of 10 of them list a bachelor's degree as requirement. And I looked at a lot of jobs I've been applying for jobs. Before I started school, I had been applying for jobs for a couple of months. And every job bachelor's degree require bachelor's degree required, it didn't tack supporting some kind of product, or what they call software as a service is kind of my wheelhouse. They also work in the tech sector, the benefits are amazing. The flexibility that they offer with most of these jobs is amazing. I've worked remotely the entire time that I have been with this dating app. And a lot of the jobs that I've applied for in the tech sector, in tend to be remote That was true when I started with my current company. And I would really prefer not to have it continue to hold me back. And not only with jobs, but I've thought for a long time that people thought less of me for not having a degree, it's something that I'm very sensitive about. I have a bit of a complex, and honestly, it could all be in my head. But I feel like even if somebody got to know me, Again, could be all in my head, especially because formal education isn't everything. And obviously, it doesn't dictate a person's intelligence or inherent worth. But you know, like I said, I've always had a bit of a complex about it. And it's really hard to shake, that kind of feeling of inferiority. Especially since so many of my friends and you know, people I've dated, and I really like nerds and nerds tend to be highly intelligent and highly educated. So I'm what's called a non traditional student. This is the special term that they use for adults who go back to school with full time jobs, people with kids, retirees, basically, anyone who decides to be a student after their traditional student time in their life. And I understand why this term exists. But I don't like it, it feels very othering. Like, there are the regular students who did That's kind of how I feel. And again, it could be that I'm just being sensitive, because I have a complex, but I really don't like be referred to as a non traditional student. It's like people with challenges are non traditional students. And so they need to point it out to to everybody by using this term for us. I also decided to go to school online. And I know that online college is like fake college and whatever. But I decided to do it this way specifically because I don't want to you I'll work an eight hour day, and then get ready for class and drive a half hour or 45 minutes to a college where I then have to find parking and wander around looking for my classroom and then sit in class for two hours, and then drive half hour, 45 minutes home, and then try to find time to do schoolwork before I get up and go to work the next day, it's just not a thing that I can do. It seems But there is a perception that going to school online, is somehow fake, or doesn't count, or any of that stuff. The school that I'm going to, is accredited, it's totally legit. It's an app for a nonprofit school. But explaining it to people has been a challenge. And that's part of why I'm so hesitant to tell people I'm even going to school. And we kind of have come to the reason why I find going back to school, so scary. Other people's opinions, I work really hard to not have other people's opinions of me matter, or, you know, have any impact on my self worth. But that is really difficult. And I'm not always capable of doing it. So it's been hard for me to talk about being in school, because I'm also a little embarrassed to be my age and just finishing my degree. And reactions, people have ranged from that kind of condescending, Oh, how nice for you, too. That's so brave, which I think is equally condescending to straight up asking me why I'm bothering because I'm just gonna drop out again. There are a couple exceptions to this, of course. But you know, the reaction has been not great. And that's not a good feeling when you're excited about something or you're like, Oh, yeah, I'm going to finish my degree, I'm going to get better jobs, and I'm going to be employable, and whatever. And people just shit on you. Like, it's, that sucks. And hearing these things from the people around me, most of whom are people I love and respect, you're supposed to feel the same way about me. It's really disheartening. You know, I'm really looking for as a Hey, nice job or something that isn't, well, why bother wasting the money because you're just gonna drop out again. That's just, that's terrible. But I am really terrified to fail. I've gotten it in my head that this is like my last chance to finish this thing that's been weighing on me for the last two decades, meaning finishing my degree. But what if I can't? What if I can't hack it? What if I don't have the work ethic? What if it's just too much for me? What of all those people who told me I can't do it or right? You know, I very often do things out of spite. I'm not too chubby to admit that. But like, I don't want to have to do this. to spite somebody, I want to do it because it's like the best thing for me. And, like, I don't feel like spite is enough to keep me going when things get really hard. But you know, if I'm still equally terrified to fail, and that just because failing again, will be embarrassing, but also because of the debt. Like I'm paying for this. Regardless of whether or not I finished my degree, I'm gonna have to pay it back eventually. It's like I just paid off my student loans from my last attempt at school, it took me 15 years to pay off those loans. I don't want to get into a situation where I am paying off loans for an education or a degree that I didn't actually get, again, that sucked the first time really don't want to do it again. And to be fair, the school that I'm currently enrolled in is relatively affordable. And it's Me is a big deal. Not only because like, you know, money, but also because I don't really invest in myself. I mean, I buy myself clothes or buy myself makeup, like I make those kinds of investments, but I've never really put money or even really thought into investing in my future, aside from my 401k, but like, that's the thing that everybody is supposed to have. But I've never stopped to think that, okay, if I spend this $10,000, it's going to increase my earning potential. And so long term spending this money is a wise choice to invest it in myself, I've just never been the kind of person who's going to do that. And also, I've never been one to want to invest in my career, because I didn't have one I had jobs. But going back to the beginning of this episode, I didn't have anything that I was really gung ho about doing. For long term, there was just things that I did to make money in the short term. So how I'm dealing with this fear and imposter syndrome and constant insecurity about going to school, I have assembled a pretty spectacular support team. That includes my fiance, Dan, my two best friends and my advisor. So I want to talk about my advisor. First, I have heard so many horror stories from so many people, especially people go into grad school, about terrible, absent advisors, like the kind of people who are never available, when their students need them, who never, like even meet with their students. My advisor totally is not like that. We have regular calls, sometimes weekly calls, to talk about my progress, how I'm feeling, what I want to do with my degree plan, like what I want to take next. We have a very open relationship, and we communicate very well together, but also like, we communicate really well, on like a human level. We just chat about our lives. And I think that's pretty great. Actually. I appreciate that she reaches out and asks me, how are you not just how are you doing law school, she's also been a huge cheerleader. For me. There are times when sometimes what I need to talk about is just the fact that I am not feeling motivated, and I need a little kick in the ass. And she is always happy to do that. And that's great. And I love her. And if I decide that I want to go to grad school, after I finished So the next person, or rather the first person, he's top of my list always is my fiance. We've only been engaged for a few months, but we've been together for a little over four years. And he's been so supportive of everything. Like I get it in my head all the time that I want to do a thing and he just says, okay, like, he doesn't ask me anything beyond like logistical questions. Like when I got Our first conversation was me saying, Hey, I think I might want to do this. And him saying, Okay, well, how much is it gonna cost? And I told him and he went, Okay, well, you should do that. And it was such a simple conversation. And he didn't like, want to know why he didn't want justification. He didn't care about justification. He just knew that. That's something that I felt like I needed to do needed to do. And he was on board. He has done that. He did that with podcast. He has done that with other projects that I've done in the past. And he's just like, okay, very low key, very chill. Kind of the best. He also brags about me to his friends, and I think that is adorable. And I really appreciate that. And he's not like, Oh, hey, my girlfriend's better than your girlfriend or anything like that. But he will tell people like oh yeah, she's in college. And like, he's just really cute about it, and I appreciate He's proud of me. And he wants to tell people that I'm doing this. So the second person is my childhood and adulthood. Best friend and someone who's been like, a surrogate sister to me. Her name is Becky. And she's been pushing me to go back to school for almost a decade. I can remember being in her house, we had been drinking wine or something. And she was like, dude, you got to go to school, you've got to go to school. And cut me kind of like not blowing her off being like, Yeah, you've, you've done this. You've said this a million times. But she has always been really in favor of the idea of me going back to school. So when I told her, she was so excited, and so proud of me, and my major is the same thing that she does like for work. But she has a super high stress, like high powered, corporate executive job. She also has two kids, one of whom is a toddler, and she still, like, will help me with schoolwork and talk to me about stuff I don't understand, in classes. And she's just been so wonderful. And she celebrated every win with me just as much as Dan does. And she's told me approximately a million times how proud of me she is. And that's just it's so great. It's been really great. I just love her. And then, of course, my other best friend, Sarah, she will, hopefully and Becky to actually, hopefully be on the podcast soon. But Sarah is the woman that I call my wife, even though she's legally married to someone else. She has her own wife. But it's been a joke that has been, you know, going on for years. And Sarah has been a huge cheerleader for me as well. Her constant refrain about school is yes, get it wife. Every time I pass a test every time I you know, turn in a paper and it doesn't come back with a million corrections, she gets super, super excited for me. And also, when something goes wrong, or I get discouraged, she reminds me why I'm doing this. And also gets really mad. And the first thing out of her mouth is Who do I need to call. And I she makes me laugh so much so often. And she tells amazing dad jokes that I hate but they they do make me laugh. But dad jokes are kind of her thing. And she sends them to me anytime I get stressed out or too frustrated. A more recent addition to my support network is actually an organization. It is a co working space slash networking group. It's called palette. And it's a local thing here. There's one in a town called Saratoga. And there's one in a town called Schenectady both are relatively close to where I live. At it's run by and focused primarily on women, like there are men in this group, but like the founder is a woman. And it's it's very much a supportive place for women, women entrepreneurs, women in business, women in high power finance jobs who work on Wall Street, moms who sell stuff on Etsy, basically, it's just a bunch of people who appreciate and respect one another and want to provide any help they possibly can. For example, I have been able to connect with two ladies who just started a local Meetup group and I was able to give them some advice about you know, members safety and and things that I've learned in my actual job that may apply to the new venture that they're starting. So but people in this group do that for each other all the time and they don't expect anything in return other than like reciprocity. Like I will help you and you can help me and our skills don't necessarily lineup perfectly. But there are ways that we can help each other anyways. The other great thing about this place aside from the community, and the community, honestly is my primary reason for joining, I started going to their weekly true called True Crime club, and kind of got hooked on how wonderful these ladies are. But it's also a co working space. And like I said, I've been working remotely for years. And pre COVID, the only thing that kept me sane, was the ability And during COVID, I realized how much I really, really, really needed that. And because this place is members only, they were able to stay open, at least remember, so that I can go there and I can work and, and it's quiet, there's no birds screaming. There's no distractions, other than, you know, just cool stuff they have in the walls. But I really, really appreciated having that. And like I said, this group is just full of incredible women, like, I have been in Albany for over two years. And because I work at home, and don't ever really go anywhere, I haven't been able to make any friends. So these people are becoming my friends. And that's fantastic. I'm so excited. And it's I appreciate that as a perfect stranger. They welcomed me immediately. And they want to know what I'm working on and how schools going and what my newest project is, and, and, and all that stuff. So that's just, that's just awesome. And it's been a really great experience. So those are my support people. That's really how I'm dealing with the fear of going to school and the fear of failing. Because really, that's that's where the fear lies is in failure. So far, so good. But I don't have that degree yet. Thank you so much for listening. I'm not sure what the topic will be for our next episode in two weeks. But if you have any suggestions, feel free to send me an email and I would love to hear from you. You can also rate review subscribe. The show is available on all the major podcast apps. And reviews are super helpful with a new show. So I would very much appreciate if you would review it. You can also find all of my social media links in the show notes. I'm not super active on social media, but there are some some gems there. So feel free to follow me. And until next time, don't let it scare you