Friday, December 19, 2008

Confession: I'm scared

Things are rough all over. We're in a recession, and it looks to be a big, long one.

The owner of the company I work for in my day job stated last year that it was a recession, long before enough data was in to make the formal announcement.

My daughter's favorite movie is Sweeney Todd, (both the visually stunning Johnny Depp and raucous Angela Landsbury versions), and the song Mrs. Lovett sings when Todd first walks into her shop keeps rolling through my head, "Times is hard," indeed.

One of my clients' mother is having trouble with a business she runs. I'm scared that may mean she'll cut back or cut out using me. Another client's parents, a husband and wife team, run a company together and are having the hardest December they can remember. The wife told me that usually December is good for them, but this year revenue has really taken a dive.

Since I'm returning to school part-time next month, I'll be cutting my hours at my day job, and probably scaling back on tutoring somewhat, too. That makes me scared.

I haven't been controlling my finances very well for the last few months, and I'm scared that will spill over into the next few months, with my income going down and my rent scheduled to increase in March.

I'm also scared about something non-financial. I'm scared about making this confession to my clients, but here it goes: I'm scared about returning to school.

I only have 4 classes left to finish my BA in Mathematics. 4 classes. 2 semesters, part-time.
And I'm terrified.

My most recent attempt at finishing college started out wonderful and ended in complete disaster. I was so depressed, I couldn't concentrate. I was throwing everything emotionally into school, and still doing badly. I had no income and had a hard time finding a job. Some people (like my Foolish friends) know exactly how bad it got.

I'm working, able to pay my bills, if just barely, [YNAB totally rocks!]and I'm putting that in jeopardy by going back to school.

Will I have enough money? Will I have enough time to study? I know, from experience, that one of the classes I'm taking is really, freaking HARD, and the other is "writing intensive."
Will I have enough time & energy to help the clients I'm already committed to? Will I get enough sleep? [sleep is intimately tied to some health issues I have, so giving up sleep, as some younger people do in college, is not much of an option for me.]

All these are negatives. All these fears could keep me right where I am: working my butt off in 2 unstable jobs to barely pay rent on a crappy apartment.

So, I have to take the leap of faith. I have to try to move forward. I have to model resilience and get back up on that horse, for myself, for my daughter, for my clients.

If I don't try, again, where will I be?

I suppose some people would consider me a failure now. I'm 39, a single parent, with no degree, a low-level day job, no assets. . . .

But, if I keep moving forward, if I keep working toward what I want, then I'm NOT a failure, I just haven't succeeded yet.

Sometimes, I can so clearly see myself in front of a classroom, teaching. Other times, I don't see a clear path of how to get there. But if I keep moving, step-by-step, I should be able to get there.
And the next step is to finish these last four classes, no matter what it takes. So, I'm scared, but I'm doing it.


  1. Jen- Take it one day at a time. You will probably have to scale back on some things money-wise but as long as you have the basics - food, clothing and shelter you can do that for awhile. You have done it in the past, remember? As far as being a perpetual student goes, or a success, or single parent or whatever- those are just labels and some of them are judgements disguised as labels. Don't label yourself or imagine that other people are judging you - none of that really matters as you know. Rent, medical care, and tuition, yeah those matter. I have known you a very long time and actually I think you being a perpetual student is a are peter-pan's never-grow-up sister. It is probably one reason why you relate to your students so well. So hang in there...I believe you can finish what you start. One day at a time.

  2. Thank you, Robin. Although I have mixed feelings about being Peter Pan's sister. 40 is right around the corner. I'm really thinking that it is time to grow up!