Thursday, January 23, 2014

how an overdue meltdown led to a big decision

 photo Leather1_zpsd8db3105.jpg

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{faux leather jacket and skirt: Old Navy; cami: Forever 21; heels: Target}

I pulled these photos out of my outfit archive. I think these were the only ones I haven't shared, so my archive isn't very extensive. Anyway, they have nothing to do with what I'm about to say, kinda like this paragraph, but I haven't shared any outfits lately and I thought you might be worried that I haven't gotten dressed in weeks. No worries, I've clothed myself. But I've tried not to stray too far out of my comfort zone lately - aka sweatpants.

I digress. So the point of this post? I've been trying to figure out how to put this in writing. I'm just going to say it: I quit school.

That sounds so dramatic and freeing. But technically I didn't quit...well, kinda. If you're new here or didn't realize I was getting my master's, up until the end of fall semester, I was earning my Master of Science in Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. And I just quit. It all started with a meltdown on the phone with my mom one night after class. The sobbing kind of meltdown.

Since the start of school this year {my third year in the program}, something has been off for me. All summer I had been earning hours to fulfill my practicum requirement {100 hours}, which eventually turned into earning my internship hours {additional 600 hours}, but I wasn't happy. After a few weeks, I had almost no interest in going to class or to my internship. But I kept on keeping on, telling myself that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

But then I was completely forgetting to do class assignments - showing up to class without the assignment and looking my professor in the face and simply stating, "well, shit." Yes, I really did say that once. To the professor. And you know what? I didn't even care that I was forgetting assignments. The Type A, perfectionist inside of me should have been a hot mess of anxiety, but I wasn't. Insert giant red flag. This wasn't me. Something was definitely wrong.

I was stressed out trying to juggle working full time, coaching, going to class and going to my internship each week. I was tired all the time. But couldn't bring myself to say out loud what I had been thinking. That is until that night on the phone with my mom. She could hear it in my voice. I didn't sound like me and all it took was for her to ask, "what's wrong, Holly?" and I was a puddle. All I could mutter through my tears was, "I'm so tired."

I was tired of keeping a schedule that stressed me out and exhausted me. I was tired of saying, "I'll do that when I'm done with school." I was tired of chasing greener grass. I was tired of missing out on seemingly everything fun that my friends, family and husband were doing. I was tired. And I wanted to be done with school. My heart wasn't in it anymore. And I realized at the current rate I was earning my internship hours, it was going to take me at least another year and a half to finish. That thought alone was enough to bring on the tears.

But I'm not a quitter. I'm an overachiever. I wasn't about to give up that reputation easily. So I did what any 29-year-old does. Calls her mom, cries and comes up with a plan. Ironically, this same night while walking out of class, a classmate, who had heard me complaining about my stressful schedule, asked if I had considered switching to a different track in our program. Of course, this got me thinking and may very well be what led to the aforementioned meltdown. But then again, sometimes enough is enough. And then your emotions boil over causing you to call your mom and cry for an hour...or two.

So, I have decided to switch tracks in my program and earn my Master of Education in Human Services. I have more than enough credits, and I have no idea what I will do with said degree. And I do not care. As soon as I said everything I was feeling out loud to mom, and then Shawn, I felt so much better and not like a quitter at all. As soon as I made and accepted my decision, I literally felt the weight of the stress lift off my shoulders and the happiness flood over me. I nearly drowned in happy!

People have questioned my decision, and the seemingly waste of time and money. But I don't see it that way at all - and not because I feel like I have to justify the amount of student loan debt I've racked up over the last three years. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. And I have learned. I have learn so much about myself and people. I see things differently. I approach people and situations differently. I have more patience with people because I understand that everyone has a story and is fighting a battle that I know nothing about. I judge less. I listen more {except when I'm watching TV}. I have new, wonderful, interesting knowledge. And I am not mad about paying for it...for a long time. OK, maybe seeing the final bill after graduation in May will sting a little, but I wouldn't trade my experiences in this program. Everything happens for a reason, right?

And the most important thing is that I am happy. Did I mention that? One decision. Granted, a very difficult decision to come to terms with and say out loud and live with. But that's all it took to get my happy back. The stress is gone. I have time for the things that I want to do and the people I want to see. I'm reading for fun. I'm making plans, and coming home after work to do absolutely nothing. It is glorious.

So there you have it. I've been struggling with how to write this all out, but clearly I wasn't at a loss for words. This was a tough decision for me to make and not one that I made lightly. I had to get over disappointing myself for not following through with my original goal. But something had to give. I felt like my life was spinning and I was grasping at anything to make it stop to no avail. Again, dramatic, but it had been building for awhile. I will still graduate with a master's degree. I have more than earned it. I have learned amazing things. And I am happy.


Janelle {Undomestic Bliss} said...

Good for you, Holly! I don't think you're a quitter at all. Life and situations change. You just made the best of yours! Glad you're feeling less stressed now.

emily said...

glad that you are happy with your decision. and that you will not have more time. i need to get on the ball with my grad program, but i don't know when i'll have the time......the struggle is real.

Whitney Alison said...

I think we get caught up in what we are 'supposed' to do all the time. Or what we think we should. I know we've already talked about it, but good for you deciding what would work for you and make you happy and acting on it. I knew grad school wasn't for me when I finished at OSU, even though that's what was expected. At the end of they day we are the ones living our lives, not the peanut gallery. Do you homie!

Miss Chelsea said...

Just a little 'costume change' for your resume... no biggie. Sometimes the outfit is ALL wrong for life at the moment ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm not turning this around to me, but just want to explain why I'm so so glad you wrote this.

I spent 4.5 years getting my bachelors to teach high school English. Then another 2 years to get my school counseling degree. And after getting pink slipped 3 years ago, I quit teaching. I feel like I've wasted all of that time and money. I have 20K in student loans. But while I was teaching, I felt like I was miserable. I loved the actual teaching part, but couldn't handle the administration and state and the feeling like I would never be good enough.

So I get it. And I'm so glad you have that weight off your shoulders.

Gwen said...

Being in the throes of a meltdown sucks, but usually ends up in a revelation. You're doing the right thing for you and the fact that you're still ending up with a Masters is really quite brilliant. Congratulations!

Ashley said...

Really excited for you!! I totally know how hard of a decision that can be to make (I'm currently a type-A headed for a meltdown and needing to make a decision myself). Hopefully I can be as strong and confident in whatever decision I make as you are with yours!!

Janna Renee said...

This doesn't count as quitting at all!! It's just choosing a new path. Hell, I changed my major three times, and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I just have faith that I'll figure it out, and I have faith in you too!

CoastWithMe said...

Holly!!! You know what....I feel like everything in life happens for a reason. And everything has a way of working out in the end. And you are right where you are supposed to be in life. Years from now you will look back at this moment and say thank god I had that breakdown. You finally listened to that heart of yours and did what makes HOLLY HAPPY! Good for you girl! I admire your courage! You are most definitely not a quitter! You are an overachiever! And you are an inspiration! So proud of you! P.S. Thank you so much for the kind words on my video! Following ya now:)!

Miss C.S. said...

You are so cute! Love the pic!

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