At a crossroads

I’m having some sort of quarter life crisis… or not even that, I’m just at a crossroads in terms of the direction I want to take in my life. The confusion has been underlying for some time but has been slowly gathering steam.

This Sunday I came down with a crippling bout of gastro (sorry for the TMI) that I’m still suffering from, so I’ve been off work and all this down time has given me more time to think. I’ve also had a written assessment due for one subject (that I LOVE) and a practical assessment due tonight for a subject that I enjoy, but that induces considerable anxiety (I had a severe anxiety attack prior to class last week, and bailed).

Despite loving the first subject my assignment is now late (10% mark deduction already) and I simply cannot seem to gather the motivation to complete it. The stupid part is that it’s short, nearly finished and relatively easy – I feel like I’m shooting myself in the foot, but somehow can’t stop myself. I know being sick (and exhausted from being up constantly for the past two nights) is part of the reason I’m ignoring it, but if I’m honest it’s deeper than that.

If I don’t do this practical assessment tonight – assuming my gastro stops long enough – I will fail the subject. As I need to complete it in order to progress to the next set of subjects, and as I’m going along at a snail’s pace (this is my 6th or 7th year of studying, thanks to changing my major after the first year, being able to do only 2 subjects per semester when the full time load is 5-6 subjects, and the curriculum changing twice since I started), I can’t afford to fail. Despite knowing this, I’m dragging my feet in the mud and feel frozen in place like a kangaroo stuck in the headlights.

So my question to myself is… do I still want to do this? I love nutrition and health, some of my lecturers inspire me, and my dreams of my future include working in nutrition health promotion (particularly in Indigenous communities). I can’t think of another thing I’d rather do, besides writing novels, and that’s a bit of a pipe dream.

At the same time, I really do not dedicate any time to home-study, I get scared in the practical classes (mostly due to my lack of preparation – my own fault!), and I really cannot summon the energy to focus on this thing. I feel that there is so much else going on in my life that there’s nothing left for this. On top of that, despite my pretty good grades, I really don’t feel my degree so far has adequately prepared / educated me.

Back in the “keep going” camp is the fact that I’ve spent so long – and wracked up such a big bill – plugging away at this, it would be a huge waste if I were to throw it away. Of course, I’d be lying if I denied that pride is on the line too – I don’t want to tell friends and family that I’ve dropped out. And, although I like my job, I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life and I don’t have the qualifications or experience to do anything else.

So really… I have no choice, if I want my future to look different to my present… but I can’t seem to make that cold hard fact turn into action of any sort.

Complicating the matter is the ‘everything else’ in my life. My husband recently quit the job that we thought would be the dream job, at least money-wise. It’s his business so I won’t splash it about the internet, but the stress levels and culture of the place made him feel he couldn’t continue. For me, that means that I am back to being the breadwinner (on a very modest wage), and that our dreams of parenthood have been put back indefinitely. Hubby is looking for a new job, but in the meantime it’s ‘hello’ to a boatload of stress about money – there is nowhere near enough to pay mortgage, loans, bills and the basic necessities.

My job is particularly busy at the moment, so between that and trying to emotionally support my hubby when I get home, I just don’t have to energy to do much when I get home besides shower, eat dinner and watch tv or read a book. I’m kind of avoiding anything that adds stress or effort to my life, and that includes study… but doing that, in a roundabout way, actually adds stress. My house is a mess and that kind of reflects my inner turmoil at the moment (what a self-indulgent and whiny sentence that it!).

I think the final thing that is bothering me is that my Mum managed to put herself through full time uni after her divorce, while raising three kids on a shoestring budget and juggling part time work. She did brilliantly (graduated with distinction) and has done extremely well for herself since graduating. My sister has also completed her undergraduate degree, and despite living like a “poor student” and even doing a semester overseas, is now doing her Honours year and is currently overseas attending a conference that she’s passionately excited about. If they can do it, what the hell is wrong with me? I’m incredibly proud of both of them but wonder if the hard working gene skipped me?

So… after boring everyone with a ‘mental dump’, I still have no more clarity.

I am scared stiff about hubby getting a job, about money, about making a fool of myself in this prac exam (and not having ready access to a toilet!!!), about what direction our future is going to take… and rather than that fear galvanising me, or me showing any strength of character, I’m doing nothing and crawling under a metaphorical rock.

At least I got that off my chest…

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