Saturday, July 21, 2012

Looking for a Mentor

In 1999 I quit working full-time to become a stay-at-home mom.  And I don't regret one minute of it.  But as Beck heads into preschool, I'm looking toward the next phase of my life.  One that includes a graduate degree and a part-time job.  I'm determined to keep the kids as my number one priority, but there are 6 hours in the day where, soon, they'll all be in school.  I'd like to use that time to fulfill my dreams.

I know a couple of women who have part-time jobs, of the variety that I'd like.  But all of them did graduate school much, much younger than I.  And I'm navigating uncharted waters, even while "sailing by ash breeze."*

There are things about this new venture I'm considering that make me nervous.  I've fancied myself as pretty smart.  I'm worried that I'm going to find out that I'm not as smart as I thought.  I worry that I'll look weird in my classes.  That I'll be mistaken for the professor.  That no one will want to sit by me or do group projects with me because I'm so much older.  And thereby lame.

But I also want--fiercely--for my life to not become a cautionary tale.  

There is a woman, whom I love and admire, who allowed her dreams to be postponed over and over.  Some of the reasons were valid.  Some, she made up because it would mean putting herself first--something she didn't know how to do.  

In the end, she made a single wild stab at her dream and was, unsurprisingly, unable to pin it down.  She was given feed back about how to proceed--instructions on how to reach her dream.  But it would require work.  And time.  Rather than take the step, do the work, and give it another shot, she folded the dream and put it away.  She sighs, when she talks of it, with a resignation that's bone deep.  She refuses to see her own relative youth--that she still has time to fulfill her dream.  She claims, when I press, that she never reeeeaallly wanted to achieve that dream anyway.  That it's no big deal.  Even, that she can fulfill her dreams without that piece of it.

But it is a big deal.  She talked too much and too long about the dream for it to suddenly just not matter.  This is where we are alike.  I want this dream, too.  I talk about it.  People know I care.  Am I different enough from my would-be-mentor to do what she did not?  

And will I be cheered on, when I press forward?  Or will I be talked to with disapproval?  

As I eye, somewhat warily, these next two preparatory years, so much hangs in the balance.

*"Sailing by ash breeze" is a phrase from Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.   It means paddling with oars made from ash trees, because there is no wind to carry the sails.  In essence, it's putting in hard work when the sailing is far from smooth.

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