When I graduated with my B.S. in journalism in 2005, I always knew I would be headed back to school someday. I thought I might go back for an MBA, a masters in journalism and communications or marketing, or possibly human physiology.

After a few years of full time work, I knew I wanted something more, but wasn't sure exactly what. Meanwhile, I watched many blogger friends or acquaintances chase their dreams or power through a degree they were passionate about.

And finally, around age 28 I decided that I could keep on waiting and always wonder "what if" OR I could just do the damn thing already. The damn thing being something, anything I was passionate about. While I know I'm a skilled marketer and event planner, I have also known that health and wellness is where my passion lies. On top of that, there isn't a lot of room for growth in marketing in the Eugene area, which has been tough.

Back in the day, I used to watch Oprah religiously and fully embraced her idea that we were meant to do and be something. I knew I had something big to offer, but I just wasn't sure what.

Well, with some soul searching, some research and some serious thinking about what kind of lifestyle I want, I decided that a focus in nutrition would be my goal with a little side of personal training and health writing on the side. It might sound a little lofty or in the clouds, but after sitting at a desk in an office for 8 1/2 years, I'm ready to tell the universe what I want. No, I'm not 100% positive that this is the thing I was meant to do, but I want to help people, I want to help make my community a little bit healthier, and I want to move.

{This is not to say that all 8 to 5 office jobs are bad. It's just that I personally feel a little trapped sitting at a desk all day. Heck, telecommuting one day a week sounds like a dream to me.}

For the past two years, I have been working full time (or nearly that) and going to school part time during the day or at night. I have been slogging through (and sometimes even enjoying) classes I thought I could never succeed at, like chemistry and anatomy & physiology.

This has been a long time coming now, but a few weeks ago I put in my notice at work that I would be leaving my first (and only) place of employment since college to head back to school full time. As I still have another year of full time, challenging pre-requisites (2+ if I continued going part time), it just seemed like the time to jump in with both feet.

See? Both feet. 

After a year of pre-reqs, the program will be two years + an internship. Will I be old? Yes, but I'm over sitting and waiting for something to happen. Will I have to take out student loans? Yes, but hopefully not too much. I am also hoping to do some kind of part time work starting winter term.

While I have been fortunate to work for my alma mater (the University of Oregon) and have had many awesome opportunities, I am so excited for this next step. Starting Monday, I head back to school, but will also be working half time at my office for the next three weeks.

A calming image because I'm going to need a bit of this in the next month 

So, what's on the schedule?

I am dually enrolled at the local community college and the UO's rival University up the road, so I will be driving a bit, but only one day per week for now. My classes include: organic chemistry, microbiology, human nutrition and orientation to nutrition & food management (where they bring nutrition professionals in to talk to us).

Finally, I have to say that this wouldn't have been possible without the support of the manfriend. He has encouraged me to continue down this path when I would have given up on myself a while ago.

My mantra these past two years has literally been "Just. Keep. Going."

Have you ever made a life decision that terrified you? How did you grow or benefit from it? 


missris said…
Oooh this is exciting! Good for you for jumping in with both feet. Change can be super scary (at least for me it is) but this is obviously your passion!
Amber said…
Wow! This is a big change but so exciting for you! It will be so worth it to jump in with both feet and get your schooling over with sooner rather than later. As someone who has spent the last four years in a relationship where one person was in school full-time I definitely know how hard it can be (especially money wise) but I know you guys can do it! Having one car and Eric working full time in the summers really helped us get by.

See you tomorrow!!
Leigh said…
I say good for you! No sense in being unhappy in a job forever. See you tomorrow!
Traitor! Just kidding. I really have no allegiance to U of O, despite that also being my alma mater.

A couple of years ago, after I got laid off, I decided to go back to school to be a diabetes educator. At first I thought I was going to do nursing, and did classes for that, but unfortunately didn't get in. Luckily those classes were the same classes for some local nutrition programs, so I started on that path for another semester... but when we moved to Minnesota, everything pretty much changed and it was going to take yet another 5 years + internship to become an RD, and I was only going to have a bachelors degree. I just couldn't imagine spending so long in school to do something I was only lukewarm about (helping diabetics, passion, nutrition, not so much). And so then I reconsidered and now I'm in a two year Masters program for psychology. So will still be helping people, but just in a different way.

It can be super frustrating to have so much ahead of you, but I think if you are really passionate about the topic (which it seems like you are, more than me) then the journey will be as enjoyable as the destination.
Jim McDannald said…
HI Sassy-

Thanks for sharing this part of your life and I wanted to let you know how much I admire your determination.

I kind of started over career-wise when I moved to Montreal, so I can relate to a lot of these thoughts and feelings. Having the support of a loving, understanding partner is a tremendous blessing.
Danielle said…
L--You have the determination and passion to fulfill your dreams, and a very willing partner. I am excited to see you heading off for new adventures
Jessica Jarrell said…
Wow! Good luck Lauren, I know you'll succeed. I must say, quitting my desk job 3 years ago was the best thing that I ever did for my mental health. Life should not be about being stuck. And O-chem, I'm not envious of you there! :)
Jessica Jarrell said…
Wow! Good luck Lauren, I know you'll succeed. I must say, quitting my desk job 3 years ago was the best thing that I ever did for my mental health. Life should not be about being stuck. And O-chem, I'm not envious of you there! :)
You are very brave, and are totally my hero. I have thought about changing jobs and/or going back to school and it scares me. I can't wait to hear all about your new adventures, especially since I actually wanted to go back to school for the exact same thing! Good luck and have fun!
Jen said…
Awesome! Good luck! Are you doing a dietetics program? This semester I decided to finally go to part time work so I can take my classes during the day, and it has been the best decision ever. even though it was decent pay, my desk job had been holding me back! I still have two years + the internship, too, but I'm excited to be on my way to finally have a CAREER!
I just want to say how brave I think you are. A lot of people will stay in a job that they don't love and even though they are curious about something else out there and think it might result in being more happy, the fear of change offsets the possibility of a new and wonderful life and so we keep doing the same things, even though we know they aren't making us happy.

Good luck with this term! I think it will be great to attack this degree with gusto instead of trying to slowly progress through the program while working at a job where you don't feel fulfilled!
Heather @Dietitian on the Run said…
SO So so proud of you. :) This has definitely been a long time coming for you, but it's so challenging to take that first BIG leap. You've taken some of the tough, smaller steps, but this is big. You're committing, and that makes all the difference. Forget the norms and where you're 'supposed' to be at any stage of life - you gotta do what calls to you, no matter what/when/how that is.

Always know that I'm here for support/questions if you have them! Along with a world of other RDs and/or Nutritionists that have been in your shoes at some point. :)

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