"I Finished College In My 40's"- How To Make Your Dreams Come True
Graduation season has officially begun! -- and, while there are so many people to celebrate, we wanted to highlight a student demographic that people usually don't discuss.
Today, we are shedding light on a woman who chose a different path, who chose to do family first and make the step towards finishing her education later in life.
To all the women thinking about getting that degree..we hope this story inspires you. We hope you find the guts to do whatever it is you set your mind to and that you let nothing get in the way of achieving your goals. Remember, it's never too late.
After nearly two decades of being a wife and mother, what made you decide to go back to school?
Boredom.... literally. I think I was at a stage in my life where all of my kids were gone, I had reached my ceiling in my job as a marketing manager, and life on a small island after divorce was making me feel claustrophobic. I felt like I needed an escape. Going back to school was that escape. That may sound like running away to some, but it was exactly what I needed to reboot my life -- and, if I'm being really honest, it became my salvation. I had no idea how stuck I really was and how desperately I needed something new to challenge me.
I knew there was more for me to do, but I couldn’t seem to access it doing the same thing day in and day out. I was literally going out of my mind with boredom. I knew I needed more than a vacation --- I needed a re-location...and going back to school could give me that (I know it’s not your conventional rationale, but that’s what it was for me). So, I chose a location I wanted to live in, found the program of study I always wanted to complete my degree in (Communications), and activated my plan of action to make it all happen. I am a firm believer in the idea that whatever we want in life, we hold the power to create our own reality...and I was creating mine.
What was the scariest part about enrolling in classes again?
The scariest part for me was actually going to class and wondering if I would be able to function with all of those young bright minds that largely make up the university demographic. I thought myself to be so much older than the bubbly 18-20 year old's flitting about campus. I was terrified! One or two of them looked at me kind of sideways, but for the most part, everyone accepted me like I was just another student. It was actually quite cool after I got over my anxiety. There were also more mature students on campus than I expected and everybody was carrying a backpack and wore the look of student life. That too was comforting. We were all simply university students at the end of the day, albeit at different stages of our educational journey.
Oh, the other fear was that I would fail miserably, not be able to do the work, and have to return home after my first week of classes. Clearly that didn’t happen and I finished each semester with top marks. Not bad for a mature gal!
What would you say to people who think “it’s too late to get their degree” or feel like there’s a stigma against going back to school after a certain age?
I would say, create your own reality. I was 46 when I started and I'm graduating at 48. Who cares! Fear is only in your head, but if you can ever get out of your head, you can step into all the things you dream of, imagine and hope for. Life is what we make it and it is never too late to start ANYTHING! Especially education. Whatever stigma there is attached, let that belong to those who choose to view it that way, but not YOU. Defy the norms! My philosophy for most of what I’ve accomplished in my life in the last 10 years is “Do it Afraid.” This is actually a little book I read by Joyce Meyer years ago and I have been practicing it ever since. It will change your life, I promise you.
What would you say to others wanting to pursue their dreams but too afraid to take the plunge?
This is actually the perfect question to summarize and reinforce my previous comments. In a nutshell, there are two things you can do...and I will add a third to ensure activation:
1) Get out of your head and know that you have the power to create your own reality. You have to be able to see what you want as though it exists already, then take the limits off of yourself and make it happen. Just do it!
2) Do it Afraid. Understand that it’s okay to be afraid and it’s important to acknowledge that; but once you do, commit to the thing you want and do it anyway.
3) Remember to keep some dreams to yourself because the negative opinion of others can shut your dreams down and keep you from moving forward.
Nowadays you see people like America Ferrera, Tyra Banks, Ciara...so many celebrities deciding to go back to get their degrees (sometimes 10-30 years later), how do you feel to be in such great company of lifelong learners?
I guess for me, I don’t think of it like that. While it’s good to know, I’ve learned the biggest validation I need comes from me being satisfied with me --- and that’s enough. I also understand that what we do for ourselves or the investment we make in ourselves is an act of self-love...something that took me a very long time to learn. Frankly, I’m still not there and struggle with it from time to time, but, the more I practice, the better I will become at loving “me" --- which will doubly serve as the template for others to know how they should love and treat me too. Oh, I could say so much on this, but I will just add this note here: I think we are all on a journey inward to finding, knowing, and loving ourselves for who we really are and getting comfortable enough to be proud of the people we become. When we are able to do this, I think we are well-poised to live life successfully.
With this being an incredible milestone in your life or moment of gratification, how do you feel about graduating?
To be honest, I don’t think it's really hit me yet. Of course, I am happy that I'm done, but going to school has been my life for the last 2.5 years and it’s like...deep breath...what do I do now?
I almost don’t know how to act without a paper to write (hahaha). Nonetheless, I am here and this whole thing started because I wanted to reinvent my life. Now I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, and my sights are set on becoming a voice actor/editor and there are a whole lot of other things I'm planning to do that would probably sound crazy to most people. But as we’ve established, that doesn’t matter to me and I will do whatever I want, because if it’s one thing university has done for me, it has freed me from all the noise of the naysayers and taught me that at the end of the day it’s about being empowered. Graduating and completing my degree has done just that.
Today, I am Empowered. Today, I am creating my own reality...and for that I am grateful!