For anyone visiting Later Levels today and expecting to find a new post about video games, let me offer my apologies. This one is off-topic and more personal than my usual ramblings. If you’d prefer to read about gaming and want to come back next week instead, I won’t hold it against you! If you decide you stick with it, you have my sincere thanks for helping me get my thoughts in order.
Everyone goes through those moments in their lives where they stop, take a step back and assess where they’re heading. Sometimes these pauses cause us to see we’re on track for where we want to go; and sometimes we recognise we need to adjust direction slightly to move towards the goal we’ve set our hearts on. And at other times we realise the scenery around us has changed, the destination no longer looks so inviting and we might need to get ourselves a new map.
In last month’s editorial, I briefly wrote about feeling demotivated and a lot of this is to do with my current state of mind at work. I’m tired of highlighting the same risks over and over, of always being told ‘maybe next year’ when I make recommendations, and every month seeing the impact of those risks increase. I just want to move forward and actually achieve something but right now it feels as though there’s a game-breaking bug stopping me from reaching the end of this level.
Maybe I need to start a new game.
This has gone on for too long now so I’ve been considering my own direction over the past few weeks. I think I’d like to go into something more technical. I’ve enjoyed learning code since messing around with my dad’s Commodore 64 as a kid, and picking up HTML and CSS as part of being a WordPress blogger has been fun, so why not continue on that path? There’s just a small problem: all of my qualifications are focused on IT best-practice and the last time I held a technical role was over five years ago.
I therefore need to retrain so I’ve been thinking about starting a Computing & IT degree early next year. I’ve already registered for the course but every time I log into my account, something stops me from clicking on the ‘enrol’ button and completing the final steps. I really want to do this but it’s a huge decision and there are so many important things to consider.
First up is the cost. This degree will mean six years’ worth of study and for each of those I’ll have to find several thousand pounds. It’s a big amount to pay out, particularly when my other-half and I are still trying to renovate the house we moved into last October. He’s extremely supportive and keeps telling me I should do this but I feel guilty about spending so much of our money on something more for ‘me’ than for ‘us’.
Next is the time. I can’t afford to give up working so I’ll therefore need to study part-time and find an additional 23-hours each week to fit in the necessary modules. I can probably meet around half of those during the week but the weekends are more problematic as we only get to see my stepson from Friday evenings to Sunday afternoons. Is it really fair on my little family for me to spend what time we do have together with my head stuck in a text book?
While the ‘cost’ element is something I have to come to terms with, the ‘time’ factor is more something I’ll have to make a decision on. The simplest answer would be to give up blogging in favour of studying but it’s a really tough choice to take. I’ve had so much fun with Later Levels over the past ten months and have met some amazing people; and it feels as though I’m finally beginning to find a writing ‘voice’ I feel comfortable with.
I’m not sure I’m ready to give that up just yet.
Ultimately, I don’t want to let anybody down. I don’t want to squander our savings on a degree which I either don’t enjoy, fail or use to get me to a new place. I don’t want to use my weekends to study for it if it’s going to make my other-half and stepson feel as though I don’t spend enough time with them. And I don’t want to simply disappear from the blogging community when everyone has given me so much support.
Life decisions such as this are always going to be difficult. It’s like playing a game you’ve sunk over 100-hours into: you’re comfortable but bored with your level 50, and the idea of starting a new release right back at level one is exciting but daunting. We all know how much gamers dislike having to sit through a tutorial and how frequently we rage-quit – but we’re also great at solving problems, battling through tough scenes and saving the world.
Who knows, maybe by the time this post has been published I’ll have made my decision and finally clicked on that ‘enrol’ button.