If you know me IRL, then you know that in the last 11 years I’ve tried going back to school to finish my bachelor’s a few times. And, like most things in my life, I stopped because of severe depression and an unstable self-image or self-identity.
I got my associate’s degree in 1999, right out of high school. Corey got sick and couldn’t work so I left school and became the main source of income for our family for over 15 years. I’ve always felt compelled to go back to school and get my bachelor’s. My parents were big on education AND I really enjoy learning and school. The problem is I haven’t known what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve changed my major a lot during my schooling:
- Mathematics (2x)
- Teaching English as a Second Language
Because I couldn’t figure out who I wanted to be, I’d always thought there was something wrong with me. What I didn’t realize is that I have a personality disorder making it harder for me to understand myself and my values. In Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), you learn that your values are the most important things in your life. They act as a compass to guide you in the direction you want your life to go so you can build a life worth living. Some of my values include:
- Having close and satisfying relationships with others
- Feeling a sense of belonging
- Being productive
- Living a life of pleasure and satisfaction
- Trying new and different things
- Treating others well
- Being a spiritual person AND having the freedom of doing it on my own terms
- Being secure
- Recognizing the universal good of all things
- Working at self-development
- Having integrity
- Being creative
Being productive was a great big surprise because it’s something I’ve struggled with ever since my mental breakdown. I wasn’t surprised by most of the others. They all felt familiar. I had just not put them down in words before, especially the spiritual one.
As one of my goals to move toward a couple of my values, I’ve made the decision to go back to school. I’ve explored all the areas of study I’ve done, what I’ve enjoyed the most, and which of them align with my values. I’ve realized that I still want a career that uses mathematics in some way. I also want a career that’s creative. I’ve loved looking at and thinking of ways to modify house plans ever since I was a child; I just haven’t ever thought about making designing those plans as a career.
Architecture’s a very competitive program at most schools. I’ll be starting out in the drafting program at UVU. Then, once I have a portfolio and I’m far enough along in the program, I can apply to the architecture program. It’s a five-year program at UVU. I don’t have to worry about my generals thanks to my associate’s degree. And, even though I have enough college credits to be considered a “senior,” it’ll probably still take me at least four years to finish my bachelor’s degree.
I’m really excited and a little bit nervous because this is the biggest undertaking I’ve done since my mental breakdown. I know I can do this, though, because I can do hard things. And, it’s nice to know that I have a good support system (Doug, my DBT therapist; Corey; and all my friends) in place. I start Monday. Wish me luck!
*I italicized “always” because I’m learning to not use absolutes in DBT. (Only the Sith deal in absolutes. ) I used it in that place because it was how I thought at the time.