Call me a late bloomer, but in March 2009, at the age of 50, I enrolled in college. I had always felt I would get a doctorate, but then it seemed life had gotten complicated and I was too old to go to college. With my daughter’s encouragement, I decided to do it.
In 2010, I completed an Associate of Arts in Communication degree. My going to college was obviously a threat to some of the people in my life. Every time I saw my brother-in-law he told me kids were smarter than me and I was too old to go to college. My sister-in-law told me going to college at my age was a stupid decision when everybody else was considering retirement. My mom kept telling me that my niece was studying the same things in first grade that I was studying in college. I had been seeing a nice man for a year, but decided to end the relationship because he kept asking me when I was going to be finished with school, like it was cramping his style. He had a doctorate.
In 2012, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Information and that’s when things started to move for me. My first IT job was at a large real estate company as a web project manager. I maintained the website and intranet and did tech support, plus a lot of other things. The job was great, but my commute was three hours a day, which made life difficult.
While working at the real estate company, I completed my Masters in Information Systems and started my Doctor of Management/Information Systems and Technology degree. In May 2016, I took a project management position at a mega company in the health care industry.
During my first doctoral class, the professors were all saying this would be a life-changing journey. When I would ask how it would be life-changing, none of them had an answer that I found satisfactory. I decided they were just making that shit up.
Things did start changing immediately. Numerous friends and family members started being quite mean to me. I had to delete a number of people from Facebook because of their constant disparaging comments. They were obviously jealous. I’d say this was the most difficult thing for me because my support system shrunk dramatically. People at work at the real estate company were mean too. There were constant sarcastic comments from co-workers about me being an over-achiever. That was another reason I changed jobs.
Fast forward to today. I will be a doctor in a few days. My life has changed drastically. I have a great job now, but it’s a very tough job. I’m still new in this position, and the learning curve is difficult. The company is wonderful, and I’m enjoying the salary and benefits. On the personal side, I live with my son and daughter, which I love, but aside from that my relationships have mostly fallen away. I’ve disconnected from everyone. I work at home, so I don’t see my co-workers. I am on a WebEx with them most of the day, but the office is a couple of thousand miles away.
I’m 60 years old and have no love interest – and no interest in love, actually. Did I say I have no friends? I watch a lot of tv and do a lot of diamond art painting. I’m going to start working on research and writing journal articles in a couple of months.
I hear doctoral students tend to suffer depression after graduation. I’m trying to avoid that by having a plan. I am in a funk, though. This might be a much more exciting time if I were 35.
I’m making this sound all dismal. It’s not. It’s just that everything fell away to make room for my work/student life, and now a whole lot of time is opening up and I don’t know what I’m going to do with that time yet.
One weird thing…suddenly people expect me to be some super smart person with the answers to everything…able to solve any problem. It’s not like that. Sometimes I just want to tell people to leave me alone. I’m just tired from 10 years of working full-time and going to school full-time and the last four years of research and writing my dissertation in addition to all that. I’m coming off 10 years of go go go. It’s harder than you would think.
Now I must figure out my new normal.