Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lifepath: there is no right way, right?

I'm a firm believer that everyone has their own path in life and it cannot be compared to someone else's path. I have a hard time taking my own advice, but I do believe that statement is very true.

If you have been reading ALPITC for awhile now (my blog is 4 years old in October! Whoa!) you know that I have a close group of girlfriends. The five of us met in the dorms at Iowa State University and have been friends for over a decade now. In that decade we have been through a lot. We have grown up, gotten "real" jobs, lost loved ones, went through traumatic break-ups, gotten married and through it all have remained close, unconditional friends.

The one thing we all have in common is our alma mater, Iowa State University. We love our Cyclones!
The four older girls graduated in 2003 and I graduated the following year in 2004. We all graduated in a simple four years and followed a very traditional college path. Looking back now, personally, I wish I would have taken my time in college. Now, when I give advice to young college students I tell them to take their time. I tell them to carefully consider their career path and research, research, research. I tell them to do their best to not miss out on anything in this once-in-a-lifetime part of their life.

But, wait. Is it really once in a lifetime?

I don't think so.

Can it be re-created? That undergraduate experience? No, absolutely not. There is just something about being a fresh high school graduate and moving away from the protection of your parents off to live on your own for the first time.

I do, however, think that where there is a will there is a way. If going back to pursue a career that you feel passionate about later on in life is a possibility, you should go for it!

I spent 7 years in a career that I loved and hated at the same time. In 2009 when the company I fell in love with shut down for good, I knew that I had to figure something out fast otherwise I was going to be unhappy for years to come. I spent two years planning, saving and contemplating about going back to school for elementary education.

Now, I am in my 4th semester of graduate school, and I know without a doubt I made the right decision. I feel as if I have more of a purpose in the three days a week I substitute teach and am in the classroom infinitely more than I felt purpose achieving outrageous sales plans and making retail companies even bigger.

This semester one of my girlfriends that I met during my undergraduate experience is doing the same thing, at the same school I am at! She is going back to school for mental health counseling after working for the man for even longer than I did. Yesterday we spent the day together running errands, and spent a good portion of it on campus.
We just happened to choose the day that all the freshman were moving into the dorms. We were definitely nostalgic for those days, but at the same time we appreciated how much we have evolved since that time. We couldn't help but comment that these little know-it-all freshman will have a rude awakening someday. ;)

No matter how much we long for those somewhat carefree days, we appreciate how much we have grown and would never give up what we now know in life.

Classes start next week and just short of being first-day-outfit-picked-out-pencils-are-sharpened ready. This semester I am taking a few classes that I am *really* excited about, and I cannot wait to get back into the classroom to substitute teach all those little rascals in middle school.

I may be crazy, but at least I am happy. :)

Did you go to college the "traditional" way? How long did you take to get your degree? What is your degree in?


Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I did - I went right out of high school and graduated with a Bachelor degree in 4 years. I have a Bachelor of Journalism with a major in Public Relations.

I love my job and I definitely want to be a writer in some shape or form one day (right now I do a lot of freelance writing and writing at my job so I am using my degree). Not sure if I'll ever go back to school. I used to think I'd get a Master's degree but I'm not sure I want to continue on in the corporate world. Only time will tell I guess! I've also considered doing something like yoga teacher training :)

Great post though. I 100% agree with it, there is no "right way" - everyones path is different!

Lesli said...

No, I wasn't traditional. I lived at home for a year after I graduated high school and let my parents support me (those were the days) but then I got a job and my own apartment and supported myself on a secretarial salary. Life was good! But I had always wanted to be an interior designer. I went to school for that when I was 30, but sadly I dropped out after 2 semesters--I was just trying to do too much--work a full-time job, two part-time jobs, go to school, and keep my relationship going. A few things went out the window that year--school and my boyfriend. Now I am older and hopefully wiser--i do hope I still end up doing something with my love of decorating. I have dabbled in home staging, but not quite the same.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Yep, I went the traditional route. 4 years at UND, degree in Mathematics. I had a 4 years scholarship, so finishing in more than 4 years was not an option for me as i did not want to shell out the extra cash. I was ready to be done in those 4 years, but I did really push myself harder than I porbably needed to, working 3 jobs at times. It was alot, but I have come to realize, it's who i am. I can b*tch about how freaking busy I am, but then if I think about it - it's how I always am, you know?

Anyways, I really treasure my 4 years at UND and would not trade them in for anything. They went by so fast and I think I am very nostalgic about them, but if I had ot actually go back to that lifestyle, I don't know if I could. I loved it, but it was also tough for me at times because I wasn't a big partier and I was actually glad I had a waitresses gig that took up my weekends as then I didn't have to come up with an excuse to not go out. Which is sad, but I can see now that i shoudl have just stood up for msyelf more back then and been more comfortable with who I am!

Wow. Long comment! Oops!

Emmy said...

I graduated (summa cum laude!) in four years from Drake (woot woot!), although I probably could've graduated a semester early. I have a BA in English and a BSE in Secondary Education with an endorsement in coaching. Like you, I went back to school to get my Masters but stuck with the same career - love it so much! Drake got even more of my money as I earned a Masters in Urban Education. :)

I'm so excited for you and S!

pinkflipflops said...

I went to school for 5 1/2 years and graduted with a Bachelors in Elementary Education with minors in English, Social Studies and Early Childhood. I switched schools part-way through and changed from pre-law. My program was 5 years, the extra 1/2 was studentteaching and I went to school 2 summers to finish in 5 1/2. I freaking loved college. If I could live life as a young 20 something over and over againI would do it in a heartbeat.

Shoshanah said...

Yes I did, I went to a tiny liberal arts school on the east coast. (Seriously tiny - only 1,000 undergraduates. Compared to my high school of over 4,000 students.) And I double majored in college in math & chemistry.

Sam said...

You're already in your 4th semester?! Wow, time flies!

I went the traditional route attending uni right out of high school finishing in 4 years. I got a Bachelor of Journalism with my major in Advertising and minor in Business. I've been contemplating going back to school for teaching, but since I just got a great job offer, I won't be doing that anymore. BUT I still might take a night class each semester and get a graduate degree in Business or Marketing because the company I work for will reimburse my tuition. So why not, right?

Shannon said...

Traditional...even though I didn't know what I was doing. I can really identify with the girlfriend you wrote about in this blog... :) hee hee

You are absolutely following your path and I'm proud of you for it.