After doing a two week stint at full-time work in January this year I had the crazy idea that I’d like to return to study. I mean, why not, right? I have an already busy life, a toddler and a big kid, a part-time job, my relationship was failing and I was about to embark on a renovation. Absolutely perfect time to start some post-graduate study as you can see.
Not just any study either. None of that first year, ease you in, introductory subjects. No no no. Just some of that post-graduate stuff where you are already supposed to know a significant amount of shit about learning and be all self directed and sufficient and what not. Which for the record, I am. But I am also woefully out of practice with study.
But I was a girl with a plan. I figured I probably spent way too much time on Facebook and Netflix so I could just sub in some of that time with learning. Less non-educational screen time could not a bad thing. Only thing is, learning does not fit in well in bits and pieces which is where you kind of put Facebook. Nor does it fit in well with late night tired Rachael which is where I slot in Netflix. Yet, I had a plan for that too. I’d designate one full day a uni day.
During that day I had one 2 hour lecture but the remaining time was to be spent totally focused on study outcomes and never would I sway. Ohhhhh no. I would attend another 2 hour lecture after work one day during the week.
So I did those things. I started my plan. It went shit.
My subjects required waaaaaay more prep than I was prepared for. Uni has changed since I last attended! You basically need to prepare for your tutorials by listening to a one hour lecture and doing the readings and sometimes further exercises too. This is not the way uni went when I did my undergrad. I had not allowed for this prep time at all.
And that whole one full study day being only for study thing? Well that never goes smoothly either. I was late getting the kids out the door EVERY. TIME. My ex would call and ask me to collect kids when it was his turn as he doesn’t think that uni is actually like me being booked out for work and therefore unavailable. Speaking of my ex, he still isn’t into his own permanent place so he is having the kids, like, virtually never so it’s not like I have some free evenings I can eat toast for dinner and catch up on my coursework.
Oh and not to mention that my renovation started the week before uni and I also needed to factor in time to choose tiles and a basin and cabinetry and what colour fucking white I wanted to paint the walls as there are 72,000 shades of that fucker. The word WHITE is a red herring my friends. Be prepared.
So by the end of week three I was in Struggletown.
This literally could have been me just over a week ago.
I rang a friend of mine whom I do some writing for to tell her I couldn’t write for her anymore and she encouraged me to drop a subject which quite honestly made me flinch inside. I wanted to achieve my goals. I wanted to achieve what I’d set out to do. I was quite prepared to tone it all down and take only 1 subject per session AFTER I made it through this one but I didn’t want to give up once I’d already begun.
Stupid. I mean who am I letting down by deferring something? Deferring isn’t failing. Actually failing is failing. And scraping through with a pass would make me so sad so why do that to myself? What’s more sad? Scraping through with a pass / failing OR deferring a subject to a later date?
Luckily I trust my friend big time so after my initial flinch I decided to let myself take on board her comments and at least give it some consideration.
I discovered that the HECS census date was coming up in 4 days. The cencus date means that once this passes you pay for your subject even if you drop it. So I had 4 days to get out if I wanted to and have no mention of the deferment of my transcript and no financial penalty. This made the idea rather more appealing.
Then I spent the entire uni day trying to catch up on my work and get the prep done for the following week. I made a deal with myself that if I could achieve that then I’d keep on with the two subject. If I couldn’t, I’d defer the one that was giving me the most stress.
I LOVED both subjects so this was really tough but I needed to be realistic.
I got to almost 5pm that day and I was still struggling with the content of my managerial accounting subject. It seemed to require the most of me and I wasn’t performing well in the adaptive testing which I knew I could do. So I did it and I withdrew.
I expected to feel like a total failure but actually, I felt so relieved. It has been so nice this past week not to wake up every day with the need to study weighing on my mind. I’ve had the mental space to make some renovation decisions and the time to love on my kids without wishing I they would give me the space to do something they were never involved in choosing for me.
If you are in a similar situation I urge you to consider lightening your load. Give yourself a goddam break. There is no need to be superwoman. Find the joy and shift as much of the hard stuff as you can. I enjoyed the subject I deferred this semester but I didn’t enjoy the stress it was bringing my life. I will take that subject probably this time next year and my youngest will be 3 instead of 2 which makes a massive difference to independence. My renovation will be complete and I will take it as a solo subject and enjoy the learning process and likely excel in it when given the space and the time and the chance to do so. But I’d never have had that opportunity if I didn’t give myself a break right now.
For some reason, giving our own selves a break seems like that hardest thing to do but honestly, it’s the ace up your sleeve.
What’s one break you can give yourself to decompress your life a little? Think about it.