There are so many facets to this particular fear for me. Advancing in my career outside of regular promotions that are disclosed once the job is accepted requires a Master’s degree.
Let me preface this with, I was accepted into a Master’s program in my chosen field. But, I got too overwhelmed with things happening at work and in my personal life that I chose not to attend. I can’t decide if I regret that decision or not at this point in my life.
One thing that scares me about my career progression is my current “boss”. She’s not actually my supervisor at my office, but she is over all of the chemists that work in the lab I work in. When I was finishing my training for my most recent career progression/promotion she literally made my life hell. I had been training for almost a year, while simultaneously working in an area I had previously trained for. She hated everything I do. Everything was always wrong and small problems that required a possible email or phone call ended up being large issues that she berated me for. I got to the point where I didn’t want to go to work anymore. I was scared anytime the phone rang or I got a new email. I had multiple days where I broke down and cried at work after she would call me. And she called me almost every day. Sometimes just to tell me I would never make it at this job and that I should probably quit now before I wasted more time and money. That was incredibly hard to hear, especially being so new to my job anyways. She was supposed to be encouraging me, but instead she was tearing me down. Word by word. I questioned a lot of things at that point in time. Whether I was right for my current job, whether a Master’s degree was worth pursuing if I wasn’t even any good at the one I was at without it, if I could afford to go back to school, and if I was going to pass the classes in my current frame of mind if I went back.
Another thing that was on my mind, was how I was going to finance my education. I managed to get through my undergraduate degree with no student loans, but once I started my new job I got a new car, and I was in the process of buying a house when I was applying to schools. I was taking a huge hit to my finances and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford school loans on top of everything else that was coming up and needing paid. Now, as I sit here reconsidering going back to school all I can think about is how I still have a car payment, I now have a house payment, and I ended up needing medical attention recently and I am paying those bills as well. Can I budget for student loans? Probably. But would I be able to continue taking a yearly vacation? Buying gifts? I don’t know. It may seem strange, but the majority of my money isn’t spent on myself outside of my bills. I spend a lot of my money on gifts and activities. I love to give people things that I think they will enjoy. I love to give presents that make people smile and since I have the money to do it, I don’t mind indulging them in their more expensive requests. I also enjoy doing runs. And those are definitely not cheap. In case you haven’t noticed by now, I am actually terrible at keeping money. Can I manage it? Yes. But I like to spend it. Bobby is good for me when it comes to things like that. He makes me save money and gets on to me for spending it on things he deems unnecessary. It’s been good for me, and frustrating at the same time. Spending money together is what being a couple is all about, but when we both make our own incomes and still have to share it can lead to some adjusting.
Outside of the financial aspects and the potential for my “boss” to go absolutely bananas again if I were to put in for any sort of promotion above what is expected, there is also the internal fear that I have. I don’t consider myself a people pleaser, but I don’t like making people unhappy either. I want people to be happy. I want them to enjoy being around me, and I want to make a good difference wherever I happen to go. I worry about how I would handle confrontations or people who were unhappy with how I was in a professional capacity. It was hard to deal with my “boss” and I don’t want people to talk or think about me in the same way I have thought about her. I would hate for anyone to talk to me the way she talked to me. And I know it might not happen, but at the same time, it might. And that’s scary. That’s another part of my anxiety coming into play. I am scared of hypothetical situations that have no basis for happening but keep me from pursuing things nonetheless.
Could I make it in school? Could I get the grades that I would need to graduate with the Master’s program? Would it make a difference in my life? My career? Would it help or hurt me? Would I be able to attend my classes and still work? If it’s all online could I keep up with the work without letting myself get distracted? So many questions. So many unknown questions.
Then there’s the alternative. I go back to school, put myself in debt, and nothing happens. I don’t use it. I don’t get the promotions that are supposed to come with a Master’s degree. What would I do then? Not to say it would be completely useless, I could eventually teach with my combination of degrees and experience, but if I didn’t get to promote within my company/lab then what? It would be essentially on hold for the next 20-25 years of my career and I would still have to pay back all of my borrowed money for loans on the same salary I receive now. I could do it, but I don’t know if I want too. I don’t know if it’s the right choice for me.
Then I have to ask myself honestly, if I think I would be a good professional leader. Do I have what it takes to progress past where I am right now? And I don’t have an answer for that either.
Then I question whether or not the classwork would overwhelm me while I try to work at the same time. CAN I do it? CAN I keep up with it all? Or will it overwhelm me and I quit or cry or lose hope in myself? That almost happened in my undergraduate studies and I worry about the possibility of it happening again at a higher level where I am literally going into debt to get an education.
The unknowns that are associated with the chance for career progression are overwhelming. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I do know if I am going to go back to school I need to do it quickly. One, because my GRE scores will no longer be valid and I don’t want to take that test again, although I would. And two, because if I don’t go now or soon, I don’t think I will continue to even think about it or have that motivation to go back.
Until I decide, maybe you guys can leave me some comments on pros and cons about going back or staying out of school?
Thanks for reading.