She's way too happy.
"Implementation of the strategy and project plan will be". . . Shit, it's almost 5!
"Sorry guys I have to hop off this call, I have to make it to class in an hour and I've got an hour drive. I'll catch up soon! "
I slide my heels back on my feet and run over to the coffee machine to fill the largest mug possible before I hit the road. I slam my laptop shut and jam it into my backpack. I throw on my backpack, the weight of which closely resembles that of a small child, and proceed to run out the door. Well, I'm running in heels with about a million bags, so you can interpret the term “running” however you will. It's more like a weird hobbly-jog hybrid.
I pile in to my messy car, which at this point sort of doubles as my own personal dumpster on wheels, judging by the amount of coffee cups and random garbage in it. I turn the air up high enough that it masks the smell of rotting coffee residue and check my emails from editors while I'm on the road. This comes highly discouraged if you enjoy living, but I've got a schedule to keep. I open up my laptop so that I can hook it up to the speaker system in my car and listen to some weirdly enthusiastic British guy read my textbook on the way to class.
I whip into the commuter parking lot with a few minutes to spare as I sprint into class and make a spectacle of myself; as usual. Here I am everyone, clearly with my life together. I sit down and try not to spill coffee on myself as everyone stares.
This is what it looks like to be back to school when you're also working towards your career.
Many people know the struggle of wearing too many hats in this life. God knows I have created quite the stack of them on top of my messy head of hair. Being a student while also working means you create much more of an experience than that of an added resume builder. It’s looking over your notes while you're on your lunch break gobbling down a microwavable meal. It’s responding to meeting requests and emails while you're sitting in the back of Spanish class praying whatever question the professor directs your way is easily translatable. It’s transitioning from presenting a detailed campaign plan as a professional to sitting in class getting scolded because you checked your phone. It’s having to learn in different ways and different roles every single day. Going back to school is exciting and full of opportunity, but for someone balancing the two different lifestyles, it can also be a complex process.
It's a balancing act to try to figure out what expectations need to be completed in what ways. It can be discouraging and upsetting at times. It can feel like you’re caught in the crossfire of a lose-lose situation, even though you are going above and beyond to further your career. This is because often it may feel like if you were doing well at your work, you're not doing well in class and vice versa.
The truth about being a student and also a professional is that there is no instruction manual for how to handle your own life. You have to discover what works for you through the relentless lessons of trial and error. Most importantly, you have to remember what you’re working towards. You're really enhancing who you are as a person in a plethora of ways. You are learning. You are working. You are teaching. You are growing and continuing to grow in every little way you manage to handle all of the different roles you take on. Dealing with adversity and the complexities of often conflicting schedules is a life lesson one cannot possibly learn too early.
This conversation is meant to highlight the difficulties many encounter everyday with the dynamic personal, professional, and educational lives we all live. It’s meant to inspire understanding and flexibility with the lifestyles of those around you. It’s meant to offer a little peace of mind for those managing to overcome financial, career-driven and personal obstacles every day they wake up and take on the world.
We are all working towards our dreams on 7 billion different paths. Keep your head up if it’s lowering, and keep your heart open if you see those around you starting to lower theirs. Work. Learn. Listen. Grow. A day in the life of a working student isn’t an easy one, but it isn’t a wasted one, either.