honest talk- university, fears, and old age

Warning- a ramble on life and Uni- not much to see here other than me processing life which I do better writing it out than silently mulling. Move on if you aren’t interested in a long epistle of Jan’s life. Don’t bore yourself.

So, I’m headed to University on Tuesday next week and somehow this has me feeling all the insecurities that I have ever had in my life, and sheesh- that’s enough to bury Mt Everest in. I vacillate quickly between excitement, feeling a sense of thrill at pursuing my long held dream of continuing my education- to a deep terror and fear of failure, and a reminder that I’m old, and although I know there is no age too old to go back to school I have a lot of noise in my head that tells me it’ll make it so much harder and will set me back and I’m not nearly talented enough to do this.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

But here is the thing, I grew up in a culture where it wasn’t encouraged to pursue a higher education. When I completed 8th grade at 13 years old it was expected I would stay home and help on the farm or babysit for busy moms in my community. I had a love for learning and dreamed of being a nurse one day so as a young teen I tried to put myself through grade 9 via homeschooling. I did okay, but I don’t even remember if I finished that year of school completely. It’s hard to swim upstream against a strong current. The next year I did a bookkeeping course to prepare me for doing the bookwork for my folks’ business that I was involved in and helping out a lot with. It was a family business that gave me a lot of life skills and experience for which I am grateful, but it didn’t get me closer to my dream of going back to school. When I was 20, I completed the tests to receive my Grade Equivalent Diploma (GED) but then didn’t continue to pursue college at that time. There was a lot of fear and hesitancy in sending kids to college in my culture/community and support from my circle of people was sparse. While this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me I can respect that’s where my community was at. However, that hesitancy and lack of positive support hindered me in enrolling in college at that time in my life. I still looked for opportunity to learn and found myself overseas in Ghana West Africa at a Missions training school. Then a few years later I went to the Philippines and did a crash course in medical care for rural areas where there may be no doctors or nurses present. It was there that I confirmed my love of the medical field and the thrill of studying the human body under the teaching of medical doctors. I also found a diagnosis for my own self, as I learned about depression and read about the symptoms and effects I knew deep inside I was dealing with exactly that. I wasn’t comfortable with the label though and continued to struggle silently with it for years. It wasn’t until almost a year ago that I got an actual diagnosis from my family practitioner when I finally told her in painful honesty what was going on internally. (another story for another time)

I came home from the Philippines fully intending to apply for nursing school. One doctor I had worked closely with in the Philippines had strongly encouraged me to go back to school for my RN. So, this country-born, Mennonite girl began looking into her options. Through a series of events I won’t bore you with, I ended up letting the dream of RN go for the time being and instead, I did one year of college to get my PSW certificate. I loved working as a PSW and still do, but I also know it isn’t something I want to do all of my life. I spent a few years in Cambodia and while there, I spent a year in Khmer language school. I was in for a tough surprise. I expected to enjoy it as I have always loved studying but as it turns out language learning uses a different part of the brain and apparently that part of my brain is severely malnourished or challenged or broken or something. Just kidding. It was more likely all the other things I was also going through at the time, but man, did I struggle in language school. Post language school I have a meme or mantra that I should be able to study anything now- as long as it’s in English- my mother tongue.

It was also in Cambodia that I began to think more and more about changing my long-held, childhood dream of studying nursing into studying the brain and the body and how it relates to trauma. Social Work and Psychology began to really pique my interest. As I was living in a neighbourhood working with kids at risk of exploitation, I began to see a need for more trained professionals in these areas. We had situations arise where I wished I would have had training and tools to know how to work through those situations in the best interest of the child. I was also checking into what it might look like for me to get more involved in anti-human trafficking whether in Canada or around the globe and there too, I felt incredibly incompetent and untrained. This led me to looking into University options to begin an undergrad to study in the field of psychology. So that, in part, is what brings me to entering the Uni world as of Tuesday next week. I shall enter it feeling old and unprepared and very scared, and also ridiculously excited and thrilled to be finally pursuing something I’ve dreamed of forever- a degree.

It feels surreal in a way because it’s been such a journey to get here. I have dreamt of this for so long and began actively pursuing it when I returned from Cambodia last fall.

While in many ways I wish I already held a degree and I could be entering graduate school- I also realize had I gone to Uni as a 20-year-old, I would have studied nursing. Something I am sure would be great to have, but since my interests have changed directions it may not have been that beneficial or I may never have thought of pursuing psychology if I had trained as a nurse. I don’t know, but I’m choosing to trust the process.

The truth is, I am a very different person than I was 10 years ago and in that way I am thankful for all the life experience I have had over the last ten years that has prepared me for this moment. So while I still feel buried in insecurities and feelings of incompetence and feeling too old to head into university as a freshman, I will do it anyway. In feeling all my fears though, I also don’t want to forget how surreal this feels. I may fail, I may hate it, I may never graduate, but one thing I can say I did, was try. And when the hard hits- I will also work on remembering who I’m doing it for.

this little guy gave the best hugs-he is also one of my inspirations to keep studying- for him.

I’m stepping out, sensing a call and direction on my life from something or someone far bigger than myself, not knowing what my future holds but one thing I know is that this is the next right thing for this time and season.

Thank you for cheering me on. I don’t know how much time or inspiration I will have to pour into this blog. I have been both busy and uninspired to create in this last year. We shall see if adding study to my diet enhances or removes that completely. Only time will tell. For today, go tackle your mountain, your fear, or your dream. Do your next right thing. You can do it- even if that means doing it scared.

As for me, I’m off to work.

Love and Peace.

One thought on “honest talk- university, fears, and old age

  1. Jan, It’s good to hear your plans for starting university with a degree in psychology. I’m cheering you on. If I can do it, I know you can too. I’m a senior with Liberty University online and am excited to hopefully graduate next spring with a bachelor’s in TESOL. I can relate to some of your story…not going through high school other than GED…so I had to work harder than others to make it through college. I considered quitting but tried to “do the next right thing”.
    -Love and prayers, Rhonda


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