My spring quarter class starts tonight and I’m squirrely-nervous all over again, wondering if I’m going to get lost finding the room or somehow show up at the wrong time or just be the wrong-looking person in the classroom. It would be awfully nice if I could bypass these pointless anxieties whenever I approach a new situation, but my personality doesn’t seem willing to bend on that front and I’m too goddamned nervous about asking about Xanax to ask for Xanax.

The subject is nutrition, and I’m hoping that taking a course in something I assume is so relevant to my long-term interests will help . . . I don’t know, clarify my path a bit. The process of signing up for a class this quarter was a little discouraging as I chewed over my limited options and got on waiting lists and tried to find a middle ground between being overwhelmed by everything and, you know, not seeing the forest for the trees.

Have you even looked at the prerequisites you still have to take? When do you think you’ll be able to get this stuff done? It’s not like they offer evening classes for everything. And you’re not the only asshole with ninety thousand low-level math classes to take, which is why they fill up the instant registration opens. At some point you’re just not going to be able to progress any further, so why waste the time and the money now?

If I want to really freak myself out, I go to this page. That’s the page of my Mondo Beyondo dream, where somehow we are living in the Eugene area where we have always talked about raising our children and somehow I have the money and time and brains to be finishing up a program that there’s no way I can actually afford or qualify for or graduate from due in part to terrifying words like “biomechanics” and “microbiology”. Somehow my age doesn’t matter and my kids’ schedules work with mine and I’ve got the energy and freedom to make a complete career transition.

It’s like being an armchair mountaineer peering at a photo of Everest, where you just can’t tell if the challenge is worth the dream—or if it’s just too fucking huge and far away, you know?

Still, I’m telling myself I’m doing the right thing by moving forward rather than staying still. Even if I’m not entirely sure where I’m going. One more class, and who knows what the next months will bring. Maybe there’s something between right here and way over there. Maybe the path doesn’t have to be as long as it looks. Maybe when you shoot for the ridiculously big stuff, you’re bound to land somewhere good.

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charissa
14 years ago

You’re definitely on the right path — because it both thrills and challenges you :)
Hang in there! You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.

Kerry
14 years ago

You are setting an awesome example for your kids.

To show them that they should see something impossible and then just go ahead and do it…that’s a huge gift you’re giving them. So few people show their kids that path.

You are totally doing the right thing.

Becky Mochaface
14 years ago

Every journey begins with a single step. One foot in front of the other. You’ll get there. I have faith in you.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
14 years ago

You can totally do this Linda!

I am actually looking into going back to school also, for Equine Massage. I already have a degree in Animal Science but that was a long time ago. I’m nervous about even getting into something like this.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

You’re not crazy! Everyone needs a hobby, and a lot of hobbyists harbor big goals – a big one being that they can turn your hobby into a paying gig. Hobbies are about passion and fun(!). I think you picked a good one. Just keep enjoying yourself – that in itself makes any effort worth while.

mixedupfiles
mixedupfiles
14 years ago

Sundry, my younger brother almost flunked out of high school, after years of struggling with learning disabilities. He joined the military and entered boot camp shortly after he turned 18, and then spent 5 years working 12+ hour shifts on various ships, including a 13 month deployment in the Gulf. He came back home, moved in with my parents, and enrolled full time in community college while staying in the reserves. After working incredibly hard for two years, he was notified this week of his acceptance to transfer to two four-year colleges, both with scholarships. He’s 24 and does not have children, so your circumstances are certainly different, but I thought you might find his story inspirational. PLUS I AM SO PROUD OF HIM I HAVE TO BRAG TO INTERNET STRANGERS!

Betsy
14 years ago

I am a scientist who made it through all those science classes that sound so scary to you. I am also in awe of your ability to set physical goals for yourself and reach them–something that I haven’t been able to do. Science is only scary if you let it be. If you want your goal badly enough (and it sounds like you do), you’ll make it through. Best of luck to you!!

Amanda
Amanda
14 years ago

I totally understand. Two years ago I decided I wanted a career change. I had a baby in May, started classes in August. Talk about crazy! Right now I’m still taking the majority online through our community college. I have taken it slowly since I work full time also. I have another year to go and right now I’m in panic mode looking at the classes that remain. But you know what? We are both closer to our goals than we were six months ago. Remind me I said that when I start the math classes in the fall…ugh!!

Marie Green
14 years ago

Change is hard, man. Even harder when you have kids, a morgage, a husband… because everything you do directly affects them. (And when I say “you” I mean “any of us in that position”.)

I think you are very brave and inspiring to be taking steps- even small steps- towards the life you really want. In fact, I think KNOWING what you really want is admirable… I’m not sure many of us can even answer that.

Way to go!

Kathleen
Kathleen
14 years ago

C’mon, microbiology is great – and if you’ve had kids, you know a huge portion of the pathology portion, whether or not you know it (strep? rotovirus? oh, yeah…). Biomechanics is all stuff you think about for exercise… If you survived the jargon of your last class, these are nothing – the more related stuff will be more fun!

(Yeah, I’m a microbiologist, but I haven’t done anything like biomechanics in a very very long time, and would still find that more fun that sociology)

Keep looking at that page and thinking of your goals – and inspiring the rest of us to do the same…

Molly
Molly
14 years ago

I have my page too – http://www.bus.miami.edu/phd-programs/curriculum/strategy-international-business/index.html. We are taking the first step and leaving Memphis for Miami in 17 days (HOLY SHIT!). You are an inspiration to me and so many others. As After all, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time and I admire you for eating multiple elephants – the marathon AND school ones to be precise.

Cara
Cara
14 years ago

When you step out on faith, just taking that next step, its amazing how the path just slowly unfolds before you. I find its not always the path I was looking for, but its most definitely always the path I want to be on. This will lead you where you are going; I know because you’re stepping out there.

Mimi
14 years ago

I think what you’re doing is amazing!

Dennis
14 years ago

You know, from the last few years of reading here, I don’t doubt you’ll get there eventually, wherever there is. That makes me feel like a jerk for saying this, but you should be really careful about going to Oregon State. It’s undergoing a lot of changes, and not all of them are for the better. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go, especially if you get a lot of coursework done somewhere else and you know what you’re in for – just that I know someone who works with students who has started telling them to graduate ASAP and get away from OSU. Email me for more, if you’re curious.

Also, I can probably put you in touch with an adviser from the college you’re looking at.

Chris
Chris
14 years ago

Whoa, you want to go to OSU but live in Eugene? That’s a commute. I guess it’s not terrible…but you don’t want to live in Corvallis? Or they don’t have the program at UO? I live in Eugene so these questions spring to mind…regardless I say pursue your dreams!!! I am going back to school in the fall as well and moving two hours away…so I have DEFINITELY had all those questions running through my mind recently. For my program, my roadblock is some Comm courses that require SPEECHES and A DEBATE. COMMENCE FREAKOUT.

Ter
Ter
14 years ago

Thank you. Just… thank you. This is going on my wall next to my computer where I’ve tacked other entries of yours that inspire me to keep going when, hey look! there’s a bag of Cheetos! Huzzah and high five and all!

Erika
Erika
14 years ago

Yes! That last sentence is where it’s at! My Granny taught me long ago to reach as high as I possibly can because even if I don’t reach it, I will still be pretty high up! :)

That time is going to pass anyway. That money will be spent anyway. Why not spend your time and money on something that could turn your world upside down in the best possible way?

MommiePie
14 years ago

You’d be surprised how easy some things are to learn when you’re really interested in learning about them. Go for it!

Ris
Ris
14 years ago

I took Nutrition in college because I had to have one more science class in order to graduate. It actually turned out to be really interesting and I still use stuff I learned in that class. I also kept the book and I reference it often.

Kate
14 years ago

“Sometimes you have to go out on a limb to get to the fruit.” ~Unknown

Lori
Lori
14 years ago

Linda,

I started back to college when I was 30 (and my daughter was 3) and at the time I thought, “I’m too old for this sh*t.” Then I graduated two weeks before I turned 35. And I thought I was done. Then 2 weeks after I turned 36, I started an MBA program. Anyway, it probably seems as though you’ll NEVER get there, but the next thing you know, you’ve made it. And it will be totally worth it. :)

Lo
Lo
14 years ago

Sounds like you’re doing just fine :) Rock on!

Wumi
Wumi
14 years ago

First step is alway difficult to take, but once take u are there.

Kate
14 years ago

My husband went back to school the month after we had our first baby, after several years of squeezing in prereqs around a fulltime job. We had the same feeling as you did when he started, but then all of a sudden it was over, and now he has an excellent job and a lot of options. If you stop, once you get to the point of “if only I had kept with it I would be done by now” you’ll just be mad at yourself.

silene
silene
14 years ago

Oh, you can SO do this. I echo what Kathleen said…microbiology? Will be no problem for you (I teach microbiology to freshman and sophomore students…want to come to Wisconsin? I’ll teach you!). You’re intelligent, logical…you can definitely do science.

As for the dream, I can tell you that you are perfect for this path. You’ve already changed MY life. I have been wanting to run, really run, and to change my life and get fit for the longest time. Life always got in the way. Reading your blog caused me to make some changes–first, to decide that some days, I just had to put on the shoes, tell S. to take care of the kids, and GO. I’m up to 2.75 miles now. I’ve NEVER run that far, not even when I was a kid in a bazillion sports and stuff. And, I realized, after reading about how you’d exercise after the kids went to bed, that there is no reason I couldn’t do that myself. So I go to the gym at night now, sometimes. Totally simple things that changed my life.

So if you can do all that from thousands of miles away, imagine what you’ll do when you’re working your dream.

Annabelle
14 years ago

Small steps, right? I actually think it’s great you’re taking this now instead of later on…you’ll learn more about what you’re interested in, it’ll probably engage you more than another prereq kind of course, and you might gain some insight into whether this is something you want to live with for a long time. And, the time will pass anyway. Says the woman who has been in some kind of class for 28 of the last 34 years. Eeps.

Jae
Jae
14 years ago

As the old saying goes, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.

Theresa
14 years ago

Go Linda GO! Every little step counts! Also, how cool for your kids to see their Mama try stuff that is a little scary and then actually stick to it. Awesome! Also, it’s inspiring to US, your readers. So thanks! (And get the Xanax.)

MRW
MRW
14 years ago

The worst grade I received in college and beyond was in financial accounting. Ten years later I went back to school to become a CPA. The thing is, when I took FA as an adult with a real interest and focus in becoming a CPA, I did FAR better – as in over two+ letter grades better. My point is that even though science and math may have been scary to you in HS or college, it’s a whole different ballgame when you take classes like that as a dedicated adult with a goal. I have no doubt you can get through those classes and others you never thought you’d willingly take when you were in college. You can do it!

Leigh
14 years ago

Linda,

Know this: that dream is not out of reach it is possbile. All of those things that seem insurmountable? Aren’t. Trust me.

As a recently divorced mother of a toddler, I went to law school. A private law school. I was 35 and broke. I borrowed money and called in favors.

Parenting was actually easier in school than when I was working. I got scholorships and loans and the money worked out.

I sounded just like you when I started; detailing the obstacles.

It was one of the best choices (and far and away the best investment) I ever made. I was 38 when I graduated.

There were challenging times in law school. But NOTHING sucked as much as being underpaid in full time work that I didn’t like that kept me from my kid.

10 years later I have work that I love, own a house, and send my high schooler to private school.

I am a high school drop out and a recovering addict/alcoholic.

Anything is possible. Look very very closely at what you think are your limitations. Knock them down one by one.
Trust me, you will only be giving up a lifestyle that is not fulfilling to you anyhow. What an example to set for your kids!

Leigh

Penny
14 years ago

Sometimes, when I used to climb big mountains that required starting at midnight and using all sorts of crazy gear, I would have to shut the part of my brain off for a while, the part that said: this is nuts, what the hell are you doing. And instead I would look down at my cramponed feet for the first hour or so and repeat: one in front of the other. Step, step, step.

Things like that.

And eventually dawn would break and the view would be beautiful and we would have made some sort of progress towards the top and only then would I remind myself of what I was trying to do.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to just look down at your feet and concentrate on shuffling forward. The forest stuff can come later, when you have a better view.

victoria
victoria
14 years ago

I am 100% confident that your life will shape up exactly as you want and it will be extremely satisfying. You will have a stellar academic record, qualify for all sorts of fellowhsip s to graduate school (so much so that you feel humbled and scared but your readers will be commenting “You totally deserve it!”) and you will go to U of O for your graduate work and you will earn advanced degree by the time you’re in your early forties.

You’ll publish a memoir along the way, using this blog to refresh your memory, but you won’t just data dump old entries to make a novel (like some disappointing memoirists who shall remain nameless). You’ll discover and develop the skills to edit the narrative and make it a cohesive memoir.

Your kids will be happy and fulfilled and you will be close to family and it is all going to work out.

Also you will have a six pack.

I feel completely confident that all this is going to happen because you’re doing everything right.

You are taking one step at a time, and each step scares you, but each step is getting you to the right place.

victoria
victoria
14 years ago

(But the only problem will be that you’ll be rooting for the Ducks while JB roots for the Beavers. You will find a way to work this out.)

Kristy
14 years ago

Doing something is far better than doing nothing. Something get’s you moving…nothing is “standstill”. Hang in there.

Emily
14 years ago

Hang in there! You can do it! No, seriously: you CAN do it. Seven years ago this Christmas, I finished my first semester of graduate school. I remember writing in my husband’s Christmas card, “one semester down, thirteen to go!” And it seemed so, so, SO far away. And so unreachable. And yet, time passes. You mark off milestones, you reach goals, you jump hurdles. Thirteen semesters later, I’m *this close* to turning in my dissertation and getting my PhD. So: you can do it!

Jess
Jess
14 years ago

Im one of the assholes taking math 96 from an island-online. I am right there with you darlin’, keep on keepin on. Its so nice to read your blog and know Im not the only one thinking all of this stuff about school, kids, exercise, humbleness, humor….THANK YOU!! If your ever on Orcas come say hi!

Leah
14 years ago

I think that as long as NOT reaching your big goals doesn’t make you fall into a neverending pit of despair, the quest in search of them will almost always be worth it.

jonniker
14 years ago

I love Leigh’s comment (and Leigh, but that’s another story). I think she’s dead right.

You can so do this Linda. You are doing it, one step at a time. Take it one day, one class, one step at a time.

amber
14 years ago

There’s a corny saying, “shoot for the moon, and you may land among the stars” or something like that.

monkeyinasuit
14 years ago

Sounds like an amazing program. Are you looking to do human physiology as a pre-med/sports healthcare related job? Curious because I have a bunch of friends who took anatomy as a major in undergrad and they’re almost all doctors now. The sole exception is my friend who did a medical ph.d (more focused on the research than the practice). My sister actually started in anatomy, transitioned to molecular biology and is now a psychiatrist.

Katherine
Katherine
14 years ago

One possible insight that may help: I learned some time ago that people who grew up in somewhat chaotic or otherwise disfunctional families often confuse excitement with nervousness or fear. The physical feelings are very similar. So is it possible that you’re both excited AND nervous? Which, by the way, is perfectly reasonable when one is about to embark on something new, different, desired, challenging, and leading to a dream. Excitement is a precursor to fun/good things.

Remember, you didn’t run 19 miles the first time out.

Just GO. Follow your gut. As a wise woman said to me many years ago (had this on my fridge for the longest time): live empirically.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

I know I’m just echoing what others have already said but for what it’s worth, here’s my tale:

Sitting at an office job bored out of my mind and turn over the page on one of those “A German Phrase a Day” calendars – it says “Are you willing to compromise?” Decide that moment, despite being poor and 31, to finish my Bachelors.

2 years later, I graduate Magna Cum Laude, with a 4.0. Apply to Graduate School. Get into Graduate School across the country. Find out I’m pregnant. Husband and I still move across country.

3 years later, many many nights of studying later, I’ve got a 26 month old daughter and in one month, I’ll get on stage to collect my Masters Degree. We did it! It feels pretty good, but it couldn’t have been done without my husband and kid.

That calendar page that asked “Are you willing to compromise?” It’s framed on my wall.

As everyone else says – One.Step.At.A.Time!

Reagan
14 years ago

You are so damn awesome and inspiring, it’s beyond words!

Your mean inner voice is just jealous- look how often you defy it- every time!!

Jess
Jess
14 years ago

Dude, it took me 11 years to get my bachelors. Now I’m two semesters away from my masters. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn’t the money or the prestige or any of that nonsense. It’s doing something I enjoy that will help make this world a little bit better. The secret is plugging along, not allowing yourself to get sidetracked, even though there are constant distractions all around, and not allowing yourself to give up even though you get tired and bored and frustrated and you can’t tell if what you are learning has anything to do with anything. I guess it isn’t so much a secret as just what you have to do. But you’ll hit a point when it will all start to click together, and you’ll start to see yourself in a new light, and you’ll be amazed at what you know and how you think, and even if it takes years, it will be worth it. And who knows, you could end up in your most difficult semester yet and realize you’re seriously considering continuing to the next level. Because you have that much more to offer. :)
Best of luck, work hard, ask lots of questions, and give yourself some credit.

Emily
Emily
14 years ago

Yay for the Eugene part! :) You’ll get there – one class/step at a time, and before you know it, it will be done. Just like all your races.

Meagan
14 years ago

Good luck Linda. Don’t get discouraged. You are not nearly old enough to be “too old,” I promise. Take small steps and you’ll get there eventually. It’s like a warm up… You’re just stretching your muscles right now, but you’ll be running soon enough. (And sometimes it will probably hurt nearly as much.)

By the way… If you DO end up moving to Eugene, my dad, Colin Call, is the best realtor in town. Really.

Kelly
Kelly
14 years ago

Linda, just another voice piping in to say, “You can do it!”

I work as an advisor for freshman and sophomore students at one of the largest universities in Georgia.

Students like you are my absolute favorite, because they are usually organized, knowledgable about their requirements, and really WANT to be there. And let me tell you, you are NOT the only person who has to do those lower level math courses. I always tell my students that math isn’t like riding a bike. If you haven’t been doing it in the last few years, you will have to start off slowly. It’s not like you’ve been randomly doing algebraic equations just for fun. I also with I’d taken those lower level math courses when I was younger. I took AP Calculus in high school (shudder) and had to take College Algebra twice my freshman year. You will be better prepared and more refreshed when the harder stuff does come.

Jenny
14 years ago

YOU CAN DO IT!!

Andrea (@shutterbitch)
14 years ago

Linda, you didn’t start up your fitness journey by signing up for a marathon. Maybe you looked at it and went, “That’s some crazy shit, but maybe someday…” and now you’re training for a marathon.

You started out with Chalene Johnson and Turbo Jam. You lost some weight, some inches, felt good, felt strong, and kept going. The challenges came at you a little at a time, and suddenly, two years later, you’re looking back at a long journey that you can be proud of, tackling fears and challenges and telling your life you’re the boss, you’re in control and you’re doing this your way.

This will be the same way. One thing at a time, and before too long, you can look back and say hey, I did this.

The example you’re setting for your kids is good too. I say, as I gulp on my Coke, sitting on my fat ass, at a job I don’t like in a field I don’t know why I chose.

I think I’ll click over to the local college and see what kind of classes they offer and what my mondo beyondo dream could be.