I talked with a friend the other day about her experience in an intensive nursing program while also working full time. Between her clinical hours and her work, she spent seven days a week in a hospital — working. She told me that yes, it was hard, but every day she was so inspired by each of her classes and by her professors. Being in class was her favorite thing to do, and applying her learning to her practice was absolutely fulfilling. She thought, “Wow! This is what it means to love what you do.” It’s not that it was easy, but the love she had for it provided a renewing source of energy and passion.
In September this year I will be starting a part-time three year program working towards a Masters in Social Work. At the same time, I will continue my full-time employment and also eventually take on a field placement during the week. While this is so exciting and exactly what I want to be doing, I have to admit that I am very scared. I already struggle to manage a work-life balance with my standard 9 to 5 and I always feel so exhausted. Waking up during the week is b-r-u-t-a-l and it’s not because I’m spending my nights partying with the owls. Usually it involves coming home, cooking dinner, decompressing, showering, and maybe working on something (The Smudgery, a linocut, cleaning, packing a lunch, reading a book in my ever-growing stack, etc.). It’s a careful balance that I’m almost always tipping the wrong way. I cannot imagine having two to three classes a week AND a part-time field placement to boot. Not to even begin on the emotional energy it takes to work in case management.
Yesterday, Monday, was another slog at work. The air in the office was crackling with anticipation of a storm, which we all felt was about to explode at any time among my coworkers. I felt like I was carrying a full basket of rocks, mentally, and every half hour someone came by to add a boulder to the top. Granted, they often didn’t do this gleefully, but nonetheless the weight grew heavier as the day progressed. I worked as fast as I could to unload them.
An hour after work ended was the accepted students mixer for my program and I wavered about going… most of the informational sessions have been geared towards full-time admits, not part-timers like me. I tried to find a couple of excuses not to go but, ultimately, showed up anyway.
Despite a few awkward moments in which I nervously sipped from my water bottle, I had some great conversations with other admitted students and current students, especially one person who was in a similar part-time program. It is such a relief to know that I will be in a cohort with others who are in my exact program, facing similar obstacles. Just being in that space gave me an excitement that carried me all the way home (and sat me down to write this post). Granted, I know the classes and clinical experience will be much more challenging than a welcome event, but I can already feel how this program is sparking my mind. The people are open, warm, and willing to discuss a range of social inequities and actions they are doing to address them. The course list gives me butterflies and the idea of working in direct service makes my heart sing. I’ve heard that this is something like falling in love.
I know that, come Fall, I won’t have as much time for outside creative pursuits. It will be even more difficult to blog regularly, but maybe I need to change the way that I approach this blog in general. Hopefully I can write shorter, more frequent posts rather than long, involved posts that cover a timespan of something like a month. And I know J will help me with cooking dinner… after all, he’s become quite the chef since he moved out on his own over two years ago. He used to only make PB & J’s, but now whips up steaks, pork chops, and lasagna, no sweat.
Basically, I think I have a lot of things going for me as I enter this new adventure: love for the work, support from friends, family and classmates, financial stability, youthful energy, and no dependents. And I salute all of the working parents who fought to get their degrees, and others who fully funded themselves through college by working multiple jobs. That is a strength and perseverance that is within all of us, somewhere, but if they had not done it, I’m not sure I would believe it’s possible.
But I know it can be done and I will do it. And I’ll try not to complain too much.
What is something that you have shown up for that was unexpectedly wonderful?