People always seem aghast when I tell them I left a high paying job in the technology field and am finishing my undergraduate degree in English Lit at 30. This is, obviously, a 180 degree turn around from the dreams I had when I was 15. When I was 15, I had my life all figured out: I would finish high school, attend college and go on to law school. I would get married in college, have my first child while in my early twenties and be practicing law before I turned 30.
I still laugh at the romanticism of that dream.
After unsuccessful stint of college in the early ’90s, I left GR and moved to San Francisco where I started working for various Internet companies. After the dot com boom started to fall like a flan in a cupboard, I moved to DC where I worked for UUNet (nee WorldCom/MCI), one of the oldest Internet providers in existence. After working long hours, haphazard pay, no social life, the job at UUNet was a dream come true.
Except the dream job turned into a nightmare.
As my boyfriend and I worked up the ranks at our respective jobs, we had little or no time to ourselves. I was forever on call or working late, he was working late hours or on several different projects at once. Our wedding got postponed and eventually cancelled. I gained 50lbs and was having such severe panic attacks, my medicine cupboard looked like a pharmacy. I was seeing a therapist several times a week.
In the summer of 2001, my mother was living in GR and had attempted suicide. I left work on medical leave and came back to help her. During that time, I started to re-evaluate my life. While I loved my job, my boyfriend and the money I was making, the bottom line was that I was feeling like a woman of 60 instead of 29. Life was far too short to keep killing myself for something that was controlling me rather than me controlling it.
A little over a year later, after my 30th birthday, I left the job, the boyfriend and DC to move back to GR. I had applied to various colleges up and down the east coast (and in Michigan) to finish work on my undergrad degree. Aquinas College was the only school who responded immediately that I had been accepted. I packed up my stuff, hired movers and moved back home.
I’ll never, ever regret the decision to chuck a high paying career away to go back to college. But there has been repercussions to that decision. I, simply, can not relate to any one. I’m over a decade older than majority of my classmates and while I’m still “hip,” everything they think is “new,” I’ve already been there and done that. Continuing Ed students (students who are over 25) cannot relate to me as I do not have children, I’m not married nor have I ever been married. Also factor in that I’ve lived in Toronto, San Francisco, and DC made me a freak. No one could figure out why I would want to see the world.
It’s not loneliness so much as frustration for not fitting in anywhere. I recognize that by the time I finish college, I’ll be 33. I’ll be 34 when I head to grad school. If I want to pursue my doctorate, I’ll be almost 40 before I’m finished. I’ve already received pressure from family members who keep chortling that I’m “too old” to have children now and good luck finding a man who’ll marry me, despite the fact that these are things that I want. I’ve already made the decision to do IVF when I’m 35 if I still end up being single and childless.
My social life is currently on hold (not by choice mind you) because it’s difficult to go out when I have tests, papers and exams to worry about. If I had a buck for every time I had to cancel on someone, I could pay my tuition at AQ without financial aid. I recently ended a relationship because the strain of his high stress job and my schedule at school was never going to work.
Having a midlife crisis at 30? Are you kidding? The authors have NO idea!