As I handed in my last essays of graduate school today (forthcoming dissertation aside) I felt a curious mixture of relief and disbelief. Had it really been 8 months since I made the move across the pond? Spoiler alert…yes. And as I sit somewhere in the limbo between graduate school and the workforce, I find myself mostly feeling secure in my choices to date and only occasionally second-guessing my judgment. Taking the leap to earn my master’s degree overseas was always in the cards, as it’s no secret that I would love to live and work here for years to come. Actually deciding to forego working 2-3 jobs at a time, move to a completely new city, and return to school while living off my life’s savings and student loans? That was a much more difficult choice to make. I’ve grown up believing, and being told, that working hard-and smart-was the key to success, and struggled with the notion of leaving behind work in favour of another university degree. Even though I’ve seen the advantages of a postgraduate degree-my mother has enough letters behind her name to craft an entirely new one, should she so choose-deciding to give myself that edge in life was surprisingly difficult.
Any time we make a change in our routine, we’re faced with some type of internal conflict. In many cases, this may seem inconsequential; I rather doubt many of us have lost sleep over having to hit the pavement before work instead of after, or fretted about using a different brand of floss. On the other hand, there’s no denying that we come up against some changes that can be downright terrifying. Changing jobs, returning to school after decades, taking the plunge into retirement…even though we’ve watched our friends and family make these life-altering decisions, often with great success, facing that obstacle ourselves can make us feel so much less certain of our choices. When we feel that stress and discomfort, the temptation of taking the “easy” way out is so much more tantalising…but how often have we sabotaged ourselves by deciding we were too afraid?
I tend to be a fairly self-confident person, and like to think I’ve always had some sort of idea about where I’d like to end up…even if those ideas were as vague as “a different city” or “in a job where I can pay my bills and not survive on rice and beans” at times. And yet, when I found myself accepted to numerous grad schools in the UK and realised I actually had the potential to change my entire life, I felt the largest, darkest bubble of self-doubt fill my core. Clearly I got over this and have not regretted a single moment since, but believe me when I say I’ve been at the bottom of that mountain of progress, looking up and hoping I would reach the top but never 100% sure. My decision to attend grad school was, in many ways, my first step uphill. Sure I’ve gone to uni and had work experience, but this was my first real breakthrough into business beyond practical experience and common business sense instilled in me by my father (well, attempted. Jury’s still out on whether it’s worked or not). I knew it would be challenging, there would be some mis-steps where I’d wonder if I was about to fall back and lose all my progress, but I took that first step. Every so often I find myself on a nice plateau, where the journey is simple and I feel comfortable; there are equally as many days where I’m crawling, dragging myself up on my hands and knees, for the slightest bit of forward motion.
No matter where you are or what position you’re in, the time will come when you reach your mountain. Maybe you already have, and are trying to figure out whether to attempt the climb. I’m not saying it’ll be an easy journey, but you probably already knew that! As my coach used to say-and as I mentioned a few weeks back-if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. If there’s a decision you’re faced with, an opportunity you might be wary of taking, I’d encourage you to take the
leap…er, step. Nobody can tell you what you’ll find once you reach the top, as our journeys are all unique to us, but if history and the pictures on Instagram are anything to go by, the view is bound to be fantastic.