What I Learned Going Back To School While Working Full Time

Copy of Pinterest Graphic – Untitled Design

I’ve never been the traditional college student. When I was a freshman at a community college, I changed my major five times. After the fifth major stuck, I only completed one more year before running away from my small town lifestyle to the busy lights of Las Vegas where I thought I would be way happier after hitting one of my rock bottoms. I returned to school after taking time off and graduated with an associates.  I don’t regret getting my associates one bit because it allowed me to earn more in the work force sooner than finishing my bachelors. However, I do regret not finishing my bachelors soon after.

After taking more time off, I started the journey of going back to school full-time while working full-time. I was denied an interview for a promotion based on my education despite already having at least ten years in the non-profit sector. I was disappointed in myself to say the least which just reignited the determination to get my education completed, once and for all. Now, I truly do love school so I can’t say, as much as I want, that I am never going back. I was offered various awards and scholarships to attend graduate schools, but after feeling burn out, this time it’s not right for me. I may go back at a later time, especially as my field ever changes. But for now, I am content with my bachelors and I want to share with you somethings that I have learned along the way. I hope you can apply them to your life to help you be a Money Smart Latina too!

1.I have time. No really, I do.  Going back to school full-time while working full-time seemed to be very daunting at first. And I acknowledged the privileges I had while doing so. I don’t have children or a husband, which do take time. Those are major commitments. When I first started going back to school, I rented a room from a friend and had a very caring boyfriend who lived on the other side of the country. So, it was fairly easy for me to come home and study or go to class after working 8 or 9 hours. However, circumstances changed and it made sense for me to move out on my own and into my very first apartment.

It gave me the space and silence I needed for a very demanding schedule. I also created processes that helped me cut down on time throughout the week like meal planning and batch cooking. Along with processes, I had to cut way back on other activities I enjoyed such as seeing friends for just about everything, reading and any other hobbies I once had, like blogging. It sucked and some of my relationships did suffer. But, I had time when I thought I didn’t and still averaged sleeping 7 hours a night. It was just all about finding it. This does mean I no longer watch TV ( maybe an hour every other day at the most) and I may or may not have gained weight that I need to lose because I stopped working out. Oops.

2. Failure to plan is planing to fail. Even if you don’t go back to school, start using a planner stat. I’ve always been a big planner nerd but I became even more so when I needed to keep track of where I was half of the time and not double book myself. Towards the end of my academic career, I even started planning out what I would be doing hour to hour. This helps you see what you need to get done for the day and keeps you from spending excess time on Facebook and other time sucks. I also have taken to laying out my outfits the night before, organizing my bags ( I have a lunch bag, purse and work bag at any given time), and packing my lunch all the night before. The thing I am still slacking on is reviewing my day the night before just so I can be extra on top of it and not be tempted to hit snooze if time does not allow. People, including myself, waste so much time not being organized so this really does help ensure life goes much smoother.

3. I believe in myself. I am okay. One of the most life changing things that has ever happened to me was when I was attending ASU. I was invited to study abroad in Israel as part as a counter intelligence training program for my dual degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. At first, I was weary. The program was going to cost at least $10,000 and I wasn’t sure I could fathom that. But, I did everything in my power to ensure I could go. I applied for scholarships, made dozens of phone calls and set up a Go Fund Me. Once I raised the funds, I crammed as much info about Israel and the people as I could before I got there and after.

When I was swimming in the Dead Sea, I cut my foot which later got infected. I had to seek medical treatment and so, when our group was out and about, I found a pharmacy, a doctor and got everything I needed on my own. I’m sure my instructor would have helped me but a lot of people had a gross stomach bug so her hands were full. And, you know, my pride. I didn’t speak the native language and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but with fierce determination I figured it out.

I don’t share this quite often, but I have a mental health diagnosis that causes me frequent bouts of anxiety, depression and codependency.  I can be perfectly okay and seem on top of everything and then have an awful week where everyday is a sincere struggle to get out of bed and feed my cat, let alone go to work. A lot of people are surprised because I seem so “high functioning,” which is silly to me. Mental illness looks different on everyone and there is no one general picture of people when they are manic or hoping to sleep the day away.

Going away to a foreign country and having that experience was a game changer for me. Since I’ve been back in therapy, my personal motto has been, “I’m okay.” And while I believe it from time to time, after having that experience getting myself medical treatment, I actually started to believe it all the time. Accomplishing this degree while working full time and keeping my sanity intact meant I was okay. I can write tons of papers and do research and take exams. I can rock in my career and come up with great events while in the middle of finals. And I can have bad days and know that I am still okay.

While I’m glad I finished school, I am even happier that I decided to go back. Any big life event is an opportunity to grow if you allow it. And grow is definitely what I did.

Have you learned anything surprising about yourself lately?
Athena

Friday Wrap Up- Graduation, Friends & Free Time

Happy Friday Everyone! I always love it when bloggers do weekly wrap ups and posts on Fridays to share what goes on in their lives, and I’ve played with it myself on and off through out the years on various blogs I’ve owned. I love seeing what people are up and so, I decided to bring it back again myself for the time being. I think it could also be a great way to check in weekly on certain goals I’ve made for myself.

I graduated! 

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The biggest and best thing finally happened, I GRADUATED FROM ASU! For the past two years, I’ve been going to college full time while working full time and it’s been rather exhausting. When I submitted my last final online three weeks ago, I really just wanted to bawl the entire time. It’s been so stressful having literally 70-80 hour work weeks between my day job, side jobs and night classes + homework. I’ve gained 30 lbs, got sick from exhaustion a few times, had a breakdown and all of my relationships took a hit.

But, I mastered time management, which is something I’ve never been good at. I learned how to prioritize what matters to me in the time that was allotted. I still got to travel and even studied abroad. And while my relationships may have taken a hit, I think a lot of them actually grew. And the most important thing is I now have a shiny new degree with my name on it and I accomplished my life long dream of finally getting my bachelors.

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Along with graduating this weekend, I also had a ton of friends and family in town! Pictured above are two of my best friends who I rarely get to see since we all live in different states now. They both came in for my graduation and stayed for a long weekend so I took time off from work. Along with celebrating my graduation affectionately titled “Day Of Athena”, we went to nice dinners, saw a drag show and spent time just lounging around. I’m so happy they could both make it out and celebrate with me!

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This past week has been spent unwinding from the past two years and spending time with H before he went home. Since being in a long distance relationship means we don’t see each other very often due to current commitments, when we do see each other, we stay for an extended period of time and soak up each other. We try to travel usually but this week was spent running errands and doing normal couple activities, like cooking together and watching Archer.

Since school has ended and two of my side hustles are wrapping up for the summer, I’m getting ready to have an influx of time! I can already predict blogging, laying out by the pool and reading in my near future.

What do you have planned for this weekend?
Athena

Quarterly Goals

I decided to break up my yearly goals into quarterly goals to help them be a bit more manageable. I can’t accomplish things in a month sometimes and a year has been a bit too broad. I don’t want it to be November and the year has flashed by, as it so often does.

Finances
-Pay off dental scaling $500
-Fix car $250
-Fix car belts $650
-Put $250 in my emergency fund
-Save $300 for gay pride
-Stretch goal- Save $500 for a cap

Blog
-Start writing regular content again
-Hit 1,000 page views in June
-Create a newsletter
-Build resource page
-Find two freelance jobs

Health
-Start counting calories again
-Lose 10lbs
Workout 3x times a week

Fun 
-Read 8 books
-Finish crochet project
-Have fun in LA, at my Graduation Party & Utah ( Given)
– Deep clean my apartment ( not fun but I don’t have anywhere else to really put it)

What are you working on this quarter?

I’m Back!

I’m baaack! Did you miss me? I missed all of you! My schedule has been extremely overwhelming but now that I am graduating, it’s a little bit better. And by little bit, I mean I have traded working on homework into catching up on all areas of my life I have neglected which means pretty much all of them that didn’t involve my education. Relationships, work and my house have all pretty much taken a hit so playing catch up is a huge must, along with adult responsibilities.

Along with my over-extended schedule, I seem to have forgotten about my goals I set at the beginning of the year, although two major ones were checked off. I completed Warrior Dash and I will be graduating from ASU next weekend. I have friends and family coming in from all over which I can’t explain in words how much it even means. I suffer from depression and anxiety and battle demons on a daily basis, but to know I have such a supportive network of people means more than you can even imagine.

I’m excited to get back into blogging and connecting with everyone again. I still read a ton of blogs but now I’m excited to have time to comment and connect again, bloggers are the best. I’m also excited to have time to bring you new content and to start work on one of my audacious goals,  building the MSL empire.

Cheers to the weekend!
Athena