It has been about 4 months now since I decided to leave my cushy job of 15 years and embark on following my dreams by returning to school full time. Prior to following through on this decision, I had a moment where I started to care about what people would think about me making such a drastic change in my life. I had worked so hard to get to where I was and I felt as though I was throwing away such a major part of my life. But now, when I tell people my story, I get people dazing off into space as if they are imagining their lives if they were in my shoes. After this has happened to me several times, I realized that there are many people out there that are too afraid to truly follow their dreams.
In addition to the daydreams I have inspired in people, I have received a bunch of questions about what I did exactly. So, I thought I would take the time to outline what I did in hopes that it helps someone else. First things first, I really had to figure out what it was that I REALLY wanted in life. For me, it came down to developing games. I love to play video games, and I love designing things, and I love all things techy; and considering I built my first webpage at 12, I had a bit of natural talent there as well. It was a no brainer for me to make this leap. But I realized that I would have to make some specific steps to getting to that goal and I knew that it wouldn’t happen over night. One thing that was abundantly clear was that I would need to get training. Nowadays, computer science can be learned through many different mediums and platforms. To make sure that I wanted to do this for life, I did some tutorials online, and started to immerse myself into all things programming. Before I invested one red cent, I took the time to watch youTube videos, online free tutorials, etc. Doing so only made solidified my passion for digital creation!
Clear and Defined Goals – with a sprinkle of research…
Now that I was sure that it wasn’t just an awkward phase I was going through in life, I did research on gaming companies and their expectations on their employees. I was AMAZED to find out that there were some top ranked gaming companies right in my home town. After my research I knew that returning to school was my only option. So, step 1 turned into: GO BACK TO SCHOOL!
I did a bit of juggling at first… for about a year…
My blog may make it seem as though after making up my mind to return to school, I sat down with my boss and told him to shove it. That’s not the case at all. Being single and having no children, I decided to go back to school full time, while working 50-60 hours a week. As insane as that sounds, I was mostly happy because in the back of my mind, I knew that I was FINALLY taking the steps towards my future dreams. I did this for two semesters and almost killed myself. For my own validation for returning to school, I had to have a 4.0, and with all of the things I was juggling in the air, sleep was the ball that fell each and every time. I was always exhausted, I was making myself physically sick, but at my core, I was pleased and happy with my progress. But, something had to give…
I wanted to give more to one thing and less to another…
It came to a point where I needed to make a decision. I was at the point in my education where I YEARNED for more knowledge. School is not and CAN not be the only resource of learning to program. I was spending my nights completing all types of tutorials after my homework was done, and barely surviving on 0 to 3 hours of sleep a night. I started wanting to get through my days so that I could get home to study more and learn more. I started to crunch numbers on what I could afford if I stepped down at work, or if I moved to a less expensive place. I had been saving to buy a house and now those funds looked like less of a down payment and more of a nest egg to fund my aspirations and goals. Anyway I sliced it, it would be tough and I would have a long road ahead of me. I also realized that if I did not start taking more classes, I would end up being in school a lot longer than I wanted to be. I started to lose sleep for a different reason… I could not get the thought of pursuing my future off of my mind.
And then the stars aligned…
It was as if the author of my life felt pity on me and lined the stars up perfectly. 1) My retired mom suggested that I moved back home. 2) An internship opportunity flashed in front of me. 3) Something at work occurred that, for the first time, made me question why I had been so loyal to this corporation for so long, and 4) after researching my school’s financial aid policy in regards to modifying my EFC uncovered a deadline that all but forced me to make a decision quickly. As for moving back home, pride was keeping me from wanting to (I mean, come on, I’d been on my own for all of my adult life) but when my mom suggested it this time… it was as if the suggestion was mana from heaven. Deep down, I knew that in order for me to get to where I wanted to be, I had to make sacrifices, changes, and had to compromise with myself. I reminded myself that moving back home would alleviate most of the financial concerns that I had. With the financial aid situation, I knew that I had to act soon and I did just that…
Those moments in life where you know it is your time…
I knew in my core that this was my opportunity and I didn’t want to regret not taking the leap later on. This lead me to making the biggest transition in my life that I have ever made. It was scary, daunting, nerve wrecking, but carefully planned and considered. I was ready to follow my dreams.
Some serious questions that I asked myself throughout this transition:
1) Is my life what I want it to be?
2) What am I really and truly passionate about?
3) Is the current path of my life what I want it to be?
4) What can I do today to get me one step closer?
5) Is fear keeping me from making changes in my life?
6) Am I letting what others think, hinder me from living a fulfilling life?
7) I just accomplished something that a year ago I couldn’t have even dreamed of, how awesome am I?
What will your future self say about you, as you are today?
Five years from now, when you look back on your life, will you have a story to tell? We have to be the authors of our own destinies. Often times we live vicariously through the lives of those on television and wish that we could live their lives. Or even if it’s not from a television star, maybe even someone in our personal lives, a boss, a doctor, a relative. We fail to take steps towards our futures that push our passions as close to our occupations as we can possibly imagine. My dream didn’t start off with taking a major leap, it started with searching myself to find out what would make me happy and then creating a plan to get me there. I’m not there yet, and I’m far from where I want to be, but I am definitely on my way.