Do It Scared

Do It Scared

Ever since college (or maybe even before), I've planned on getting a master's degree. Of course, I decided to be a teacher when I was like eight and never really strayed from that. Not everything in my life has gone according to plan (thank goodness! ha!) but majoring in secondary education and becoming an English teacher pretty much stuck pretty close to my original script.

I loved teaching... don't get me wrong. But after just a few years in the classroom, I was already questioning whether I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. Schools, students, parents, etc. have just changed SO much since I was in school, and I'm not that old. =) I loved my students, I loved the actual instruction part of teaching, I LOVED doing my bulletin boards (still miss that!)... I'm still passionate about education, but I just couldn't see myself doing this for the next thirty years (or even the next ten.)

Four summers ago, being crushed under the weigh of my curricula. 

Still one of my favorite boards ever. Those hashtags! 

That hand on the hip pose, though. #ohdear 

Plus I had also always planned to stay home once I had a baby, at least for a few years. So between moving away from the school job I had and getting pregnant, I took time off from teaching and was spared, at least for a while, from the decision of getting back to it later.

So what would I do instead? When I was a teenager, literally nothing else ever occurred to me. Teaching was it. And even though I had always gotten good grades on my papers, I really didn't consider myself a writer at all. I actually made it pretty clear that creative writing was not my thing and that I was terrible at it. (You may be thinking... "well, yes. You still are." That's fine. hehe)

But I took a composition class in college and got some really positive feedback from my professor (Dr. P! The BEST!) and throughout the semester (and in some other classes with him) he made it clear to me that writing was something I shouldn't ignore. And that maybe I wasn't terrible at it after all. Maybe even...a little bit good? (His words, not mine. =) So that made me feel good considering that he's a genius, but I still didn't consider anything about writing until I started this blog five years ago and wrote my first play a few months later. And obviously I've been writing (albeit sporadically) ever since.

Fast-forward to the past year, where I've been thinking about my future job, whatever it may be, as Alice will be off to school before too long. (Not that I'm ready to even consider that! Ugh. #allthetears) But I knew I had to start making some kind of plans; I just couldn't decide in what direction to go. Education? Writing? Editing? I don't know! Not to mention I haven't worked a regular job (besides being a #momboss) for the past three years. Kind of out of the game.

I've had grad school on my mind all this time but not really front and center given my daily schedule of keeping a toddler alive and all that entails =) but a couple of months ago, I came in from a run (obligatory reminder that I'm a runner now, y'all) and Jonathan said (out of the blue) "I think it's time for you to go back to school."

The thing about Jonathan is that he seems off-the-wall with statements like that but the great thing is that he won't bring something big up without having thought it through meticulously first. So he had already worked through a lot of the logistics (mentally, at least) before bringing it up to me. God bless him.

I immediately jumped online and started looking around at different programs. My first (and really only) choice has always been Liberty University...for many reasons, the main one being that they have SO many options online and we've always had a great experience with them (Jonathan got his master's from LU in 2014.) But I still wasn't sure about which direction to go... getting a generic education degree seemed pointless since I wasn't even sold on going back to teaching, and anything writing-related just seemed so beyond me. Where would I even start? I even briefly considered library science. (I'm not gonna lie; I would still love to be librarian someday. =)

But that day, I found a brand-new program that Liberty was offering- a Master of Arts in Professional Writing. (Sounds pretentious, I know!) I knew instantly that it was the best program for me. Not only does it cover a lot of the "business" side of writing- marketing, research, etc., but it offers education classes too. SO whichever direction I go in professionally- writing or teaching or both- I'll have a ton of tools to help me in the future. It's really the best of both worlds.

I applied that night and then the most horrendously stressful three-week period began. (Basically, getting in was a huge shot in the dark because my undergrad degree is only partially accredited, blah blah blah... it's not that interesting, but trust me when I say that it was torture. All I could do was write an impassioned "purpose statement," pray really hard, and hope for the best. (I guess the admissions department couldn't know that dragging out the decision over such a long time was literally killing me and bringing out the most obsessive parts of my personality. I have forgiven them. =)

So, (spoiler alert!) I GOT IN. And then registered. And then looked at my course guides and nearly passed out. (Holy workload, Batman!) And even though I'm insanely nervous, I'm excited. I've always been a huge nerd who actually really loved school and learning (I vividly remember going back to campus for the last few weeks of classes after our student teaching and feeling a little thrill when I started taking notes for the first time in months. #coughlosercough) And since I'm going in a different direction than what I've always planned for grad school it's even more unfamiliar. Not to mention, I've really never written in this kind of setting before. I've written college papers and my blog and a lot of miscellaneous stuff but I haven't been formally "graded" in years and (given my need for approval and straight A's that's bled over from like second grade), I'm slightly terrified.

My friend Lauren always says, "Do it scared." I've actually applied that little commandment to a lot of areas in my life in the past year or so- starting Weight Watchers, doing Couch to 5k, approaching new friendships... all kinds of things. (Lauren is very wonderful and wise, always. =) And that's how I'm going into this new venture in a couple months- scared. Scared of failure, of rejection, of stress and exhaustion and oh yeah, taking classes with an almost-two-year-old as my study buddy. (I'm sure Alice's pterodactyl screams will only enhance my work environment.) But I'm doing it anyway, with the support of my awesome husband and lots of Dr Pepper, no doubt.

If nothing else I have a stock of G-2 pens at the ready!

Which brings me to this post. I have been insanely lazy about blogging for, really, the past three years. It was almost like losing the rigidity of a school schedule also took the structure of my days (which it did in a lot of ways.) I remember thinking that I'd have tons of time to write, but as Gretchen Rubin says, "Things that can be done at any time are often done at no time." Such is life, and I can't do anything about it now, but one huge disadvantage to not blogging regularly is that it makes it infinitely harder to come back to it when I choose to. It's very much like a muscle that has atrophied (picture my attempt at writing as swinging a scrawny arm that's been in a cast for months and resembles a noodle. That's how it feels.)

I hate it, but over the years blogging has always been the first thing to go when I get busy or overwhelmed or whatever. (I know... what a great writer I am!) But it's easier to cut this out than reading (never!) or cleaning my house (for my own sanity's sake, no) or, you know, caring for my family (kind of a nonnegotiable.) Poor Dash of Ash gets pushed aside every time. And in the coming months, I can't make any promises about how faithfully I'll update here. BUT given the whole atrophied muscle thing, it seems really dumb of me to not write at all this summer and then start back up again cold turkey when I'm actually going to be graded. Yikes.

So consider this post (and the ones coming soon, I hope!) the writing exercises I need to get my strength up for my classes starting this fall. I promise to keep things way more fun than the gym (and I'll never yell at you or make you plank. Have you planked? Good grief.) Think of the exercises as more like the old lady aerobics class that just give you an excuse to wear cute gym clothes but not really break a sweat or experience any awkward locker room TMI. (Aaaand that's enough of that metaphor.)

Okay, I'll wrap this up. Thanks for all the encouragement already and for being so great about still reading what I've written here. If it weren't for this blog and all the sweet comments over the years, I know I wouldn't ever have had the courage to pursue anything with writing at all, let alone "professional." #sofancy. Thanks, everyone! You're the very best! Wish me luck! In the meantime, I'll be reading for fun all I can and stress-bingeing Psych. What could be better?