It’s been one of those weeks in the world of academia where you wonder if it will ever end. This is not a completely true statement. In fact it’s more for dramatic effect: I love being in school. I love the learning. I love meeting new people. I love the connections I’m making and the networks I’m building. What I’m not loving is the financial impact this is having on my family. That is not for dramatic effect: that is the drama of being a mature student.
Finances was one part I thought I had a handle on going in to this student thing. I thought I had planned out quite well how much it would cost, how we’d have to budget, little things to cut back on. I will be the first to admit that I am the maker of my own anxiety. Those little treats that you think don’t add up? They do. The odd latte here and there. The occasional lunch. Then there is the kids trips. The kids clothes. The kids little treats. Before you know, your budget is out the window and you are staring down the barrel of the last pickle jar. Dramatic effect once again.
The good news is that at the end of all of this drama will be a post-graduate diploma in Corporate Communications. The good news is I’m doing well in the course and learning more than I ever thought I could. The good news is when people ask me what course I’m taking and I tell them the response is very positive. The good news is that there is good news.
Four years ago I took a skills assessment / abilities test. This was to help me determine what careers would be suited to my skill set, personality type and interests. When I walked in to the office to meet with the counsellor to discuss my results, he said, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.” Now I didn’t realize that you could have bad news in a meeting like this. I thought this was essentially a meeting of the minds to give me direction. Bad news didn’t seem to be part of the strategy. Luckily he continued with, “The good news is you can do whatever you want. The bad news is, you can do whatever you want.” Typically me, I had ended up in the middle.
The middle is not something I’m good at. I like to be out front. I like to be in the lead. I’m working on it but so far I still strive to be ahead. To have some test tell me I’m right smack where I don’t want to be was somewhat frustrating. Needless to say I walked away from that meeting as directionless as I had walked in. The good news is I didn’t let it stop me.
Fast forward four years and now I’m working with news. Media releases, news releases, events, etc. are all parts of my education. Finding direction is still a bit difficult as I have so many options to choose from. Design, event planning, public relations, internal communications: how does one choose an area to go in to when you are standing in the middle of a huge pile of choices ? The good news is I have time to figure it out. I have fantastic instructors to help me. I have opportunities to connect and learn.
At the end of all this learning and deciding and choosing and focusing is a job. This, of course, has been the point of the journey. To get a good job that will aid the finances of my family while giving me creative outlet and meaningful work to occupy the next 30 years. The good news is that I’m that much further ahead than I was four years ago when I got the good news / bad news speech. The good news is my financial situation will improve and I will no longer have to choose between a latte and new socks. The good news is that being a mature student has been a dramatically better experience than I ever thought it could be. And when one can get a picture of Colin Firth portraying drama masks: well that is very good news indeed.