I interviewed a young woman today for an article. We were chatting after the interview and she was asking me if it was difficult being a student at 43 and managing school work, ambition, and children. My answer: Yes and No.
Yes. It's incredibly challenging trying to get the amount of time in that I need to study. It's a struggle, as I've written about extensively, to find the time to write. And it's no easy task to be involved in the lives of my three children who are at very different places in their development.
But no, it's not more difficult.
I can remember when I was in college straight out of high school. My friends and I complained bitterly about our work loads, schedules and trying to find enough time to fit everything in. There were so many directions to go in life that it could be bewildering.
At 43 I wouldn't even contemplate returning to the nebulous period of my late teens and early twenties. It's not that I have all the answers now. Well actually that's not true. I may have the answers but questions keep changing on me.
I enjoy school more now than I did then because I have so many areas of my life where I have to be grounded in reality. I have to go food shopping. I have to pay bills. I have be up early to make certain my kids get to school on time. The list can go on and on. Now many of these haves are wants also. I love being the first person to greet my children in the morning. Even though my older ones are completely capable of getting themselves out and fed in the morning. I still want to be there for them.
Returning to school has been a purely selfish act for me. I can still be a writer without a degree. School gives me the chance to, and I know this is going to sound like a cliche but here it is, SOAR. I can allow myself the room to expand my thinking in a way I would have no room for in my day-to-day world. I still have deadlines and exams but that's a small part of my experience of being a student.
At the heart of her question, this young woman wanted to know if I had any regrets about being back at school with the demands of family. Sure I hate missing out on lectures and readings but the reality is that my experiences since I graduated from high school give me an edge on many of my collegiate peers. This experience strengthens my writing, giving me a deep well of emotions and situations I can call up at any time.
Would I go back in time if I could, choose a different path? Heck no! The Here and Now is wondrously flawed and far too exciting.