impending big life change, part two

Part one here.

There's a lot to freak out about. I'm not going to let my fear and anxiety stop me from doing what I want to do. But I need to acknowledge the feelings and talk about them before pushing past them.

  • Age. My friend told me I'm looking at four to five years of library school, assuming I go part-time, then another three to four years of working at various inconvenient locations until I land my dream library job. The first thing I thought was, I turn 48 next month. How old do I want to be when I start a new career path? Isn't mid-50s too old?

    Well, no. After living with those negative feelings for a while, I started to think of it this way. If I start now, by the time I'm, say, 55, I'll be (hopefully) earning more money and living a life closer to what I want. If I don't, where will I be? I'll be that age anyway, and I'll be doing the same thing I'm doing now - that much more sick of it, that much more frustrated, that much more unhappy. If I want to make a change, I can't worry about how old I'll be.

    My friend AWE, who started law school for a second career at age 37, told me she had many law-school classmates who were older than her. And that was in a full-time program. The part-time, evening law schools, she said, are full of people in their 50s. This really helped.

    AWE also pointed out that, given I'll need more education for any career change, library school is pretty low intensity - two years if you go full-time - and my BA in English applies perfectly. If I wanted to enter, for example, a health-care profession, I'd need more coursework on the undergraduate level, and in areas that are not my strengths. So I'm well positioned for this. Once I accepted and got accustomed to the fact that I will need more education for any career change, I saw this more clearly.

    In addition, the three to four years of imperfect jobs that my friend mentioned might not apply to me as much. He wanted a job at a specific Toronto library branch, and was waiting for that to open up. I'll have a wide range of acceptable locations, including Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville.

    I've also recently discovered it might not take four years to finish the program. More on that shortly.

    So the age factor is looking a bit better. And when it doesn't look good, I have to ignore it.

  • Energy. I'll have to keep my weekend job and go to school at the same time. Can I do it? I can go part-time and stretch it out for up to six years. I can go full-time and be overly burdened. Or I can try for a middle option. After meeting with the assistant dean yesterday, I've learned that there are several, such as going to school over the summer, and/or doing an independent study path for a large chunk of credits.

    In addition to school, I'll need to get a grunt-level job in one of the public library systems. My librarian friend strongly recommends working as a page, shelving books, 10 or 15 hours a week, to log time in the union, and therefore be eligible to apply for good jobs after finishing my degree.

    We all have finite amounts of time and energy, but my health issues make this a non-negotiable for me. I can't compromise on getting enough rest, or my life will fall apart.

    Can I do it?

  • Money. I've learned that we're not eligible for OSAP (Ontario student loans). So we're looking at education loans from our bank. And if I'm going to school during the week and working on weekends, I won't be writing or transcribing. Can we afford this? (But can we afford not to?)

  • Ohmygodthisisallhappeningsofast! Up until yesterday, I believed - based on what I had read on the iSchool's website - that the deadline to begin the program in September 2009 had passed, and I was looking at applying for September 2010. (There is only one intake a year, in September.) So I thought I had a long time to re-organize my life, tie up all the loose ends, before starting something new, which is my preferred method of attack.

    Yesterday the dean told me that if I want to apply for this year, I still can.

    Holy shit.

    This began a whole new set of freakoutedness. Can I get it together that quickly? What will this mean in terms of the war resisters Campaign? I'm determined to see it through to the end. If I start school in September, will I be able to stay active? (Could we have a goddamn election, please??)

    But if I'm concerned about how old I'll be when I finish this process, beginning this September would be one more year in my favour. And I know that just because I prefer to have everything neatly tied up with no loose ends showing doesn't mean life works that way. I've accelerated my life plans to take advantage of opportunities before. Maybe I have to again.

    Another campaign friend pointed out something important last night. She suggested I apply for the program right away, then if I decide to wait until 2010 to begin, I can defer admission. The dean says I could apply now, and they'd hold my application for a year if I wanted. She emphasized I might want to order my university transcripts and look into financing, to get the ball rolling, no matter which year I decide to start.

    But if I do want to apply for this September, I have to begin immediately.

    * * * *

    I'm sure there are a few more things to freak out about, but that's all I can think of right now.
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