This is kind of how I feel right now…
At the start of 2017, I was pushing full steam ahead going into the second semester of my Online Masters Program from Bay Path University. Going back to school as an adult, an online program on top of that has its challenges.
Who is the boss now?
Being a business owner, I have not had a “boss” for several years and triathlon certainly teaches you that you are your own boss. If you don’t do the work, you have to face yourself in the mirror and either be ok with yourself, or you better get up and get that session in. So for several reasons returning to the student mindset of assignments and weekly deadlines is challenging to me. And honestly, I have failed at this challenge thus far.
I am also a people pleaser, so failing to meet my teacher's assignment triggers my need to justify my behavior. So now I find myself wanting/needing to explain myself which is awkward and stress inducing.
Being that the program is online, there is an almost limitless flexibility to your "class time." The fact is, there is no class time. So now you have to figure out how to carve out time and stick with it. It sounds easy, but my experience tells me the first conflict you run into, the statement "I have to go do homework" will appear juvenile and make you cringe.
This raises an interesting issue. Am I secure enough to say "I am going back to school to learn something new?"
But back to my full steam ahead start into 2017. I was nailing it. Each deadline, each comment, and each assignment. Then I got sick. Not just one week, but three weeks! I fell so far behind that there was no realistic way for me to catch up. I hated the idea of giving up. I hated the thought of having to reach out to the program director and admit that I have to withdraw from the two classes.
But then I remembered a passage from a book I read not too long ago. "Disrupt Yourself"
Two quotes I took to heart:
Seth Godin: “Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
“If you pursuing a goal that is constantly frustrating, you will be less successful in goal attainment in other areas of your life. In these instances, quitting or finding a new curve, may be the smart choice.”
The impact of falling behind
Because I was feeling stressed, couldn’t sleep well and continuously had this sense of doom hanging over me, I knew that at this very moment in time, the right choice was to withdraw from the classes. Unfortunately, it was too late for a withdraw so instead my transcript will have the letter grade “F.” It bothers me; it bothers me a lot.
But I know that it doesn’t define me nor is it a reflection of my capabilities.
Now after a few weeks of not having been enrolled, I can say that I miss it. But I also don’t miss it; which made me dig deeper into Why that is. I took the opportunity to examine the route I want to take and what I need to focus on as a writer. I know that my long term goal is to write a Non-Fiction book. I have come to appreciate Creative Non-Fiction work; which uses traditional storytelling techniques to tell real stories well.
However, I fear that my euphoria and stubbornness prematurely narrowed and tainted my experience, exposure, and education to only one branch of this amazing craft. So perhaps right now is the time to dabble?
Back in art school, we learned how to draw with pencil and paper. It doesn’t get more basic than that. If you learned about perspective and were able to translate that which you saw onto paper, then you could use acrylic, watercolor, oil or digital medium to draw the same thing! More than that, you could start to draw things that only existed in your imagination. Because if you can't draw the vase that is in front of you, how are you going to draw the Holy Grail? Nail the basics, then add complexity.
New Opportunities: Never Stop Learning
So while I wait for the spring semester to come to finish, I am giving “The Writers Studio” a try. They also have in person classes in San Francisco! It is very different from the various classes on creative non-fiction I have taken thus far.
I just catapulted myself into the world of fiction.
Don’t be afraid to quit.
Just make sure you don’t give up.