Surviving life, work, school, & everything in between


(instagram.com/annawatsoncarl)

A friend I made in grad school shared something with me, and I want to share it with you guys as it perfectly describes what I’m going through right now. To give a little context to her situation, she is a wife, mother, grad student, and works full time. She is also a beautiful writer.

“When I get discouraged because the volume of work seems too much, the competing demands too many, my resources too low, I remember that this is what growing and succeeding looks like at points. It’s messy. It’s imperfect. It’s fighting through, identifying what actually needs to be done, under the pressure, with competing demands, finding and building networks, asking for help, negotiating and making compromises to creatively get to the finish line. And some days it just sucks. But in the end, it is a privilege to have such problems in the first place. And it will be over soon enough. And it will be worth it. And the first friend who points out that proper sentences don’t start with And or But are getting whip cream pies in the face.” – KN

For those in a similar boat, I hope you find comfort and encouragement in her words as I certainly did.

C.

And I am done with my graceless heart

- Florence + the Machine


It’s always darkest before the dawn

On the home front, things are improving. I totally burned Jon out while I was recovering from my own burnout, which he briefly wrote about here. Our marriage has been put through the wringer since I quit my job, and while we’re not out of the woods just yet, I think the worst is behind us.

My new schedule these days is pretty jam packed. I’m working full-time during the day, which is a refreshing change from working a couple evenings a week for the past four years. I much prefer the 9 to 5 lifestyle. Thus it’s kind paradoxical that I’m also working part-time in the evenings doing counselling work. It’s a casual position that’s flexible, and it allows me to pick up shifts as I choose. In addition, it’s close to home, pays really well, and I’m able to continue practicing counselling.

As for school, I’m taking two courses, which people like to think is equivalent to two undergraduate courses. I’m here to tell you that it’s actually more like four. Even though the program is part-time, I’m pretty much a semi full-time student. Basically, I’m working full-time and part-time, and schooling more or less full-time. It’s crazy, but fortunately, my day job allows me to do school work when it’s slow. Hence, the sole reason I accepted the position, despite compromise in salary and location.

I’m also using public transit to commute to work. As a grad school, I have full-time status, so I was able to opt in for the UPass. I love driving everywhere, but economically, the UPass makes transit way more affordable than paying for parking, gas, and insurance. Although there’s a lot of little annoyances like delays and standing/sitting close to people, it’s actually not that bad.

And that’s my life update for now. I write so much for school that writing leisurely is impossible. Nonetheless, I felt the need to catch you guys up on current events. I’ll return in December to breathe life back into this blog and hopefully finish writing about Europe.

C.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go

- Dr. Seuss


coffee & psychotherapies

In case you’ve been wondering, school is going really well. First month was crazy, though. We had an assignment due the first week of school, and since then, it’s been nonstop reading and paper writing.

I didn’t always love learning growing up, but I always tried to do well in school. It wasn’t until I got to university that I actually started to enjoy learning. Traditional subjects like math and science were never my strong point, so getting to pick the courses that I wanted to study during my undergrad allowed me to really explore and learn what I was interested in. Thus, my time in university ignited my passion for learning.

On the other hand, working is great, especially getting paid. Plus, school is incredibly stressful and costly, so when you finish, you never want to think about going back. Although there are other means of learning that don’t involve school, I believe school is great for learning when you’re truly passionate about the subject. I also acknowledge that it’s not for everyone.

Admittedly, I applied for grad school for professional reasons and not because I actually want to be in school; I really like working and making an income. However, two pages into my first reading assignment, I realized that school isn’t all about obtaining the necessary credentials. At the very heart of why I’m in school is my love for learning, which runs deeper than anyone will truly ever know.

That said, I am really enjoying my program thus far, and I know I made the right choice, although there was never any doubt. However, it’s been a huge learning curve. Switching to a graduate level of schooling has been an adjustment. At an undergraduate level, you only skim the surface of major theories and concepts, whereas at a graduate level, you have to learn to analyze and critique readings and research literature, as well as apply theories and models to clinical practice. It’s definitely intense and there’s a lot of pressure to perform.

I have my days where I feel confident that I can do this and days where I feel crippled by inadequacy and doubt. By no means is school easy for me, and I actually have to try at it. I was never one to brag about getting an A on an exam I didn’t study for. I struggle everyday with the belief that I can do anything and the fear that I’m going to fail. Nothing in life has ever come easy for me, and I have had to work hard at everything, especially school.

Now that it’s mid-November, I’m approaching final projects and papers, so it’s going to be a busy month. Got one more post to share with you guys tomorrow so check back.

C.

When one door closes, another opens

“… but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell


Elbow River

My apologies for yet another disappearing act, which seems to be my blog theme for this year. Shortly after my last post, school took off, and I’ve been buried under a pile of textbooks since.

In good news, I finally found a job. My search for a new job was very specific as I wanted something that would be more conducive to school. Thus, I applied for a bunch of random reception and administrative jobs over the summer, but heard nothing back. I figured it was because I was overqualified and the job market right now is quite competitive. When I finally ran out of options, I decided to apply for a barista position at a local coffee shop. I went through the interview process, even did a shadow shift, and got a job offer, but ultimately decided to turn it down. Then it was back to square one.

I felt like I hit another brick wall. Instead of letting it get me down, I decided to expand my search to include counselling-related jobs, and actually gained some movement. However, I was very apprehensive because I wasn’t sure if I could handle working a full-time counselling job while going to school. In mid-October, while I was interviewing and waiting to hear back from a couple jobs, I got a call for this job I’m in now. I originally applied thinking I wouldn’t hear anything back since I had no luck even getting an interview for an administrative position. But fortunately, I was in luck this time.

I decided to settle for a desk job with minimal responsibilities and low stress so that I can concentrate more of my efforts on school. It pays shit, which was really hard on the ego at first, but I know it’s what I need right now in order to balance both work and school. Although I would like to work a “real” job that pays “real” money, it just doesn’t work with my life circumstances right now. School is turning out to be a lot more demanding than I had originally anticipated, and between juggling my other roles as a wife and daughter, this easy job is about all I can manage. I’m still trying to come to terms with all the changes, but I’m definitely in a better place and I’m grateful that life is beginning to turn around.

I’ve always been a big believer in timing, and while it was frustrating that it took so long to find a job, I think it worked out the way it was supposed to. I would have never imagined choosing this job, but sometimes, many doors need to be closed before the right one opens.

C.

Insert bullshit inspirational quote here


Forever 21 blouse; Sportsgirl distressed jeans; Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses; Coach court bag; Yves Saint Laurent tribute sandals

I am a firm believer in the motto, “You can do anything,” but with a lot, and I mean, A LOT, of hard work. Well, I’ve put in the hard work, and yes, I’ve experienced in my own life that I can do anything. So when I quit my job, I was convinced the world was my oyster.

Last week, when meeting up with our friend, Justin, for Korean fried chicken, he said, “the world is still your oyster; it’s just cloudy out today.” The sentiment touched my heart, but I continued to divulge how the job search has been a struggle.

I was beginning to wonder if I was living in this idealistic world where inspirational phrases like ‘you can do anything,’ ‘believe in yourself,’ ‘do what you love,’ was actually the key to success and happiness, or was it all bullshit? I have read a lot of stuff on the internet about entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startups, and I always marvelled at how they were able to overcome their fears and follow their dreams. But I rarely read stories similar to my own, where someone quit their job because of burnout and then couldn’t find a job.

I’m guilty of writing idealistic posts about following your dreams and doing what you love. I know it’s not that simple, which is why I always emphasize hard work. However, this experience has been a major reality check, such that my self-esteem has hit an all time low since being unemployed. Since the age of 15, I’ve always had a job except when in school full-time (read more here). At first, the break was exactly what I needed in order to recover, but after Europe and weeks upon weeks of being at home, job searching, writing cover letters, filling out applications, and hearing nothing back, it’s been disheartening to say the least.

I try to remind myself that things will get better and things could always be worse, but it’s hard. Most days, when I’m home alone, I feel like I’m hanging out with a mirror that’s reflecting all my faults and failures back at me. I’m used to succeeding in life and I’ve always thought highly of myself, so this setback has been a humbling experience.

So is it bullshit? Yes and no. It’s bullshit to think that having a degree and some work experience will get you everything you want in life. But it’s not bullshit to believe in yourself and to believe that you can do anything. Even though life is trying to prove me wrong right now, I still believe in myself and I still believe I can do anything.

C.