Friday, September 23, 2011

Flashback Friday and my "Back to School" Manifesto

The campus of USIU - Nairobi, where I obtained my BA.  Those buildings in the distance are the hostels (dorms).  I miss that beautiful campus.  And the near-perfect Kenya weather.
  I had my first class of the quarter last night.  As I was sitting in my Microeconomics class with a bunch of 18-year-olds, trying to stay awake as while learning to calculate the slope of a graph for the 5,204,879th time in my academic career (oh the joys of prerequisites), I had plenty of time to look ahead and ponder what is in store for me over the next 10 weeks.

 I must confess, maintaining a work-life balance has not always been my strong point.  My life without school is hectic but generally carefree, but academics is always the straw that breaks my back.  You'd think after 20ish years of school (oh. my. god) I'd have some things figured out, right?  Ha!  So this year I've decided to be proactive and create a manifesto of sorts that I can refer back to.

In order to make this quarter a success.....

I will NOT:

1.  Let running become a source of stress, and instead rely on it as my relief from stress.  Yes, I want to progress with training for this marathon, but I must keep things in perspective.  I am working full time, taking two classes, moving to a new apartment, helping 5 in-laws move to a new apartment, and hosting my parents-in-law for a month that happens to overlap with my final exams.  And training for a marathon.  AND keeping up with normal domestic wifey obligations (which includes a LOT of cooking) So you know what?  In light of all that, if I find that I can't keep up with the training and have to drop down to a half marathon?  I will NOT be disappointed.  There is a fine line between pushing your limits and crossing your own boundaries - I will try my best to distinguish.

This is my "5:30am" face.

2.   Be overwhelmed by my classes and begin to doubt my own intelligence.  I'm taking a class in Information Security, and I'm going into it very un-knowledgeable about IT in general.  This is a crisis of confidence waiting to happen.  I tend to be very impatient with myself when I don't catch on to something right away, which was fine in high school/undergrad because I didn't find the material very challenging.  This grad program is different though - these are concepts I don't really understand after one reading.  I have to work for it, and that's good for meI just have to remind myself that working for it is normal, and I'm not just dumb.

3.  Place undue strain on my marriage.  My husband is under a lot of stress too, with his last class this quarter and a big scary comprehensive exam that he has to pass to get him Master's.  Unfortunately, we handle stress in very different ways - he becomes obsessed with one thing he's working on (a paper, studying for an exam, etc) to the exclusion of all else (meaning me and most other household considerations);  I, on the other hand, become obsessed with keeping all my balls in the air, give everything equal priority instead of making school (or whatever) top priority for a little while, and fall apart when I can't keep it all together.  Fundamental incompatibility.  Instead of being frustrated by the perceived lack of support, I will be patient, stop pressuring myself so much, and try to enjoy some stress-free time together whenever possible.


1.  Try and get most of my school work out of the way before December 1, so I can enjoy the time with my husband's family.  They are traveling a long way to stay with us and I have no idea when we'll be able to make a trip like this happen again, so I'm going to make the most of it.

2. Take time away from the day job if I need to.  They give us vacation time for a REASON after all.  I should stop hoarding mine like it's leprechaun gold.

3.  Be frugal and shop sensibly.  I admit, the thought of getting a new apartment is super exciting, and my list of things to buy keeps growing exponentially.  I will keep it under control and not enter 2012 sans a savings account.

4.  Take enough time for myself to relax.  Keep up my twice-a-week yoga habit.  Run for the joy of running.  Read a non-school-related book.  Keep up with my obligations joyfully and, if I find that I can't, not feel like a failure for stepping away for a little while.

Now that that's said, let the quarter begin!

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