Staying Open to the Life Before Me

A new idea popped into my head last week which was this: Why not get an MBA—maybe even an online MBA? Like most people, I used to think online degrees weren’t credible, and after getting a “low-residency” MFA (similar to an online MFA) in creative writing, a degree that can help me get what’s basically the fast food job of education as an adjunct professor, and which only served to put me in more student loan debt, I felt resentful and mistrustful. But lots of people get online degrees now and they seem to be legit. It seems that the importance lies in the program’s accreditations.

An MBA will allow me to do what I want to do: learn more about marketing and business from a broader perspective. In short, become more competent in my ability to do my job—unless I’m deluding myself into thinking I can derive confidence from a degree when in reality I can only achieve that through inner work. But I have this idea that for once I’ll understand what chief executives and VPs are talking about when they throw around terms and acronyms instead of thinking my old thoughts that I have no idea what they mean and how I didn’t go to school for this. Why not just go to school for it? I’m doing the inner work anyway, so why not get some training for my career?

An MFA will allow me to advance into a higher role and I can learn how to create strategies and plans instead of doing the technical, tedious work I realize now that I don’t like. Maybe I can get a position doing what I like at a company I believe in, and maybe I can get an MBA while working. And who knows? Maybe I can pay for it outright, or maybe I’ll work for a company who’ll pay my way. Even if for a partial tuition payment, any little bit helps.

I never thought I’d consider getting an MBA. If you’d told me even six months ago that I’d consider an MBA I’d tell you you’re crazy. But it makes sense that if I don’t feel competent or confident at something, why not get some training? For some reason this is the path in front of me, and it’s a lucrative one that I should and can take advantage of. I always thought, or hoped, that a more “noble” path would be set for me, such as teacher or nurse or author of an award-winning memoir that inspires millions and becomes translated into 35 different languages, perhaps something that gets an introduction from Thich Nhat Hahn or Jack Kornfield or Tara Brach, which becomes a critically acclaimed mini-series with appearances from actors like Kevin Spacey and Mark Wahlberg and where other actors like Helena Bonham Carter make a comeback that recharges her career from her “Fight Club” days (and “Atonement”), catapulting her to a whole new level of stardom. Or maybe Wynona Rider, in such a way that everyone forgets those nasty little incidents with the kleptomania, after a brief interview with Oprah in which she confides that she’d been medicated by Michael Jackson’s doctor, and had a brief stint in the psych ward followed by years of living an ordinary life which was painful at times, after having been a celebrity, but it was also peaceful and life-changing. But I digress.

Online MBA it is—or maybe some kind of certification, like a project management certification, or maybe even just classes. Training of some sort. We never stop learning; the opportunity always exists. Because I can be a worker among workers, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m not special, unique, or important. I can and will be a valuable, contributing member of society. Even now at the grocery store I am a contributing member of society. It’s all in the way I look at it, and that doesn’t mean I’m looking at a tragedy and calling it a fairy tale. It’s a blessing that I get to learn how to promote a company’s services, especially when I believe in that service, and better yet that I get to use my intelligence, talents and skills to do so. It’s a blessing that I can be—and already am, actually—self-supporting. I’m a lucky person, and to recognize that is part of my awakening, my transformation into a better version of myself, my true self.

Not that the voice of doubt doesn’t echo in my mind telling me it may not work out. That doesn’t go away overnight. But I don’t have to listen to it or feed it. Instead I can know that I’m doing what I believe to be the right thing at this point in time, and to worry about a future that may never happen is futile. If it doesn’t work out, then I can try something else.

One thing I’ve learned about myself through all of this is that I am resilient. I persevere. All this time I thought I was beaten, that I allowed life to beat me down, that I lacked courage to change my life, and that I’d never change because I’m too weak. But in fact, I bounced back. I took action. I researched my options, I got a job to pay my bills, I downsized my life, I got a professional mentor (a recent development—more later), and I just kept going. This is what we all do—well, most of us, anyway—even in the midst of thinking we’re not doing anything, or that we’re not doing enough.

I think part of the reason that I have this old idea that I’m not doing enough is because the rewards of my work aren’t happening quickly enough for me. The rewards for me are to get my own place, work at a job I like, live near my job, and live a life I enjoy. Spend my free time on fun hobbies and take care of myself. It’s hard to see that I can do those things now—I can live a life I enjoy right now, today. Eventually I’ll get another job and my own place. So for now, I’ll stay open to the life before me.

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