I have been wanting to go back to school pretty much since I graduated. My husband has always been supportive of the idea, but it seemed life always got in the way. Whether it was that money was too tight, someone was having surgery, we were adopting, moving, whatever; it just wasn’t in the cards year after year. This year we feel we are ready and I am so excited! I’m so excited that I am giving away something fun to celebrate!
This is my view as I duck into a computer lab for four hours once a week. When I leave class it is dark and my brain is mush. Two online classes start next month after I buy a new fancy computer. I opened up a life drawing book I hadn’t cracked in more than 15 years and it is nothing like riding a bike. It’s hard you guys, but it feels really good.
I don’t know if it is self indulgent, but I wanted to share the reasons why I am going back to school. I hope it encourages others to consider it too! I put it off for a long time, but I am excited. I am guessing I am not the only mom in this boat.
I am turning 4o this year. In a lot of ways I am really basic. Going back to school is pretty much the most basic of mid-life crisis’. I went to school with a lot of hopes and aspirations for a career in the field of animation. I did really well in school, but ultimately graduated with a BA in Studio Art. My emphasis was in drawing and painting; my plan was to always go back to school ‘someday’. Someday never came. I am not at all unhappy with the choices I made when I was finished with school and when I got married. All of those decisions are what made me who I am today and has a lot to do with why my family is as tight as it is. That being said, the itch of unfinished school has never gone away.
Animation has always been my thing. Honestly, I don’t think if I will ever work in film animation, or if I really want to. The industry is a completely different animal than what it was when I was in school in my twenties. While film and TV may never be something I work towards, there are so many ways to use animation. I think that will make my heart happy and I think I have a skill set that lends itself well to something in that industry. My husband has often encouraged me to draw and learn new computer programs and I just didn’t have the time, focus, or belief in myself to do what I needed. I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I think I am honing in. That is exciting.
Nobody telling me the notion is silly. Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to interview a lot of people in the entertainment industry. It is interesting to hear people who talked about their craft and how they were encouraged to follow their dreams. Until I was about sixteen, I never had a single adult tell me animation was a good idea. I was consistently told what I loved was silly. While I had financial support and was even told I was a talented artist, I was fed a constant message of “animation is silly”, “this is throwing your life away”, and other things that I see now as an overreaction to something that naysayers just didn’t understand. While I was strong-willed, some of that negative talk did drip in and it took its toll. What I have learned over the years is that while I was taught that animation was a silly pipe dream, it really wasn’t. Only two hours up the road from my home were half a dozen studios (probably more) that employed thousands of animators and other creative film makers. To this day I don’t understand why those who should have encouraged me to dream big dreams thought animation was ridiculous, but they did. The past is the past and all we can do is learn from it. A while back my husband said: “You know if you had just stayed in LA, you would have been working in a year, you were that close; you just got scared.” Looking back through a different lens, I believe he is correct. Lesson to be learned here : Encouraging words are important.
I feel like what I went to school for has always been knocking at the back of my mind. I remember being at a conference last summer where a woman in her 60s spoke about working in the animation department at Walt Disney Animation Studios. She talked about growing up in the 1960s and how thankful she was for having parents that encouraged her in her endeavors. I’ve sat in on interviews with animators for years now, and I understand what they are talking about just enough to really miss it. Technology has changed, but I can learn technology. Again, my hopes for school have evolved a bit, but there is so much more I can do with what training I already have if I am willing to add a little more to it.
My kids are bigger. Yes, we partially home school, but we have always raised our kids to be self-led. As they get older and more independent, I feel like I can easily study alongside them. I hope they will be thankful for me taking the time to be home with them, but I also hope they will be encouraged by me working on something other than homemaking and blogging.
My friend died. I don’t know if this is a weird reason to go back to school, but this rattled me and helped me see so many things so clearly. I have a handful of friends that I have been lucky enough to know for several decades. My sweet friend, Kelly lost her battle with breast cancer last year at only 42 years old. I am still here, but I am a little broken. I have found myself doing things since she moved to heaven that I never did before. I worry about putting things off for a time that may never come and living with regret. Even if I live until I am 100, I don’t want to have a bunch of decades of “Maybe I will do that later.” or “I wish I had done more of what used my talents.”.
No House Projects. This was probably one of the biggest contributing factors to us being comfortable with me going back to school. We were lucky enough to have help in purchasing a fixer-upper about 3 years ago. We’ve been fixing it up ever since. My husband is handy and I always grew up in the middle of a home repair project so it kind of just became a way of life. Somewhere along the way necessity gave way to just project for project’s sake. When some circumstances in our extended family relationships changed, the waters became less muddied. We finished up loose ends and realized we didn’t really care about finding more ways to perfect our little house. We realized how happy we were with what we had. We found that we liked having the extra time to hang out with one another, and the extra money to do more than decorate with. Don’t get me wrong, we love our little house and are thankful for the opportunity we had, I’m just glad we don’t have any projects.
Watching others being held back makes me shudder. I remember hearing an older relative saying something years ago about wanting to maybe work in interior design; she hadn’t worked outside of the home in decades. I am not sure if the thought was fleeting or if it was something she had been thinking about for a long time. While my style is very different, I recognize her eye for design. She said something along the lines of wanting to maybe take some classes and that “I dunno, maybe I could have a whole career still…”. She said it timidly, and rightfully so. Her husband was right there. “Tsk,” he said audibly as he rolled his eyes. While nobody really responded, and it didn’t seem to bother anyone else, it really hurt me. Like, why not? Why couldn’t she be an interior designer? What was so eye-roll worthy about that idea? Why couldn’t she use her skills for more than decorating her own home? Was he challenged by the idea of her working, making money, and perhaps getting praise from someone for her skills? It made me sad to hear this woman who likely has decades of life left was discouraged in pursuing something she was good at that made her happy. I guess it isn’t any of my business, but it terrified me that I might someday be in the same position. Kids grown, bored out of my mind, never doing anything else because I was too scared and not supported. It just made me a little depressed to think about it. On the other hand, I am thankful that my husband doesn’t treat me the way this woman’s husband treats her; I don’t want to waste that blessing.
Stability of a two-income household. I love that I am able to work from home and blogging has provided a decent income for my family. While I love working for myself, we have discussed the benefits of working for a company. We have made it a point to always live on one income, but we constantly worry that if Harry was to lose his job, become disabled, or die. I simply could not keep up our household on my income alone. Benefits, a 401K, and just the consistency of a full-time job seems like a good thing for our family.
I can totally blog at the same time! I love that I can continue to work while going to school. I may have to cut back, but I love that blogging allows me some flexibility. Many of the friends I have made through blogging do so as a part-time (but full-time income) side hustle while working a full-time job elsewhere. Many of my friends are teachers, administrators, dentists, and more! I am so thankful that while I am in school, I can work and not lose out on income. I am also thankful that I can keep my blog going even if I do start working in a completely different line of work. (Because this question always comes up – here is my blog post on How to Make Money Blogging)
Self Care. Being in a classroom has always been good for me. School was hard for me socially, but I really enjoyed learning. My mind tends to race no matter what, so a classroom is somewhat soothing for me. It’s hard to explain, but I would prefer to be in a classroom than at a spa day. I know that is not normal, but it is what it is. A classroom is exciting and relaxing all at the same time. Self Care is something Harry and I typically put off, but I am so happy to indulge in some classroom time. As self-care often does, it has really set a happy tone in our house.
So anyway, I’m just putting it out there : School is cool. If some time goes by that I am not here as often, I probably have a test or project or something. I will be back, I promise! Blogging makes me happy and will always be my favorite work from home job. I’m not going anywhere. To celebrate me being all super brave and stuff, we have a fun giveaway!
I am giving away a $200 Apple gift card to one lucky Highlights Along the Way subscriber. WHAT?! I know. It’s awesome. First off, this is in no way sponsored by Apple (man, I wish). I won this gift card nearly 2 years ago and have done nothing with it. We aren’t an Apple family, but I bet some friends here are!
As with most of our giveaways, you must be a verified subscriber to Highlights Along the Way. Simply subscribe and leave us a comment letting us know what you want to be when you grow up. That’s it! We also have several ways that you can earn more entries by engaging with us on social, but being a subscriber is the only requirement. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is valid only within the United States.
Enter for your chance to win in the Rafflecopter entry form below. Giveaway starts NOW and will end on 4/25/2018. Winner will be chosen and notified by or before 4/28/2018. Winner will be contacted via email. Winner’s name will also be visible in the entry form (First name and last initial). Only the winner will be contacted. Winner MUST respond within 48 hours of winner announcement and provide a mailing address. If the winner does not respond within that time frame, the prize is forfeited and a new winner must be chosen. While we have never had a problem with a giveaway before, Highlights Along The Way cannot be held responsible for lost or damaged prizes.
As with most of our giveaways, you must be a verified subscriber to Highlights Along the Way. Simply subscribe and leave us a comment letting us know what you want to be wen you grow up. That’s it! We also have several ways that you can earn more entries by engaging with us on social, but being a subscriber is the only requirement. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is valid only within the United States.
Best of luck and thank you for your support!