Revolving Doors

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

For the past year I feel like I’ve been running in circles, around and around, pushing on the glass to try to find a way out, but when a doorway appears, I hesitate to jump through it. I continue to push forward but I don’t really get anywhere.

As you know, I’ve been applying for jobs for over a year with no luck. “Discouraging” doesn’t quite cover how it feels to keep applying for jobs and being passed over, particularly when they’re jobs I’m totally qualified for. I don’t get it. So I decided going back to graduate school made the most sense because I could get the education requirements I need for the jobs I would like plus work experience while I’m in school. I picked the program I wanted to do and applied to it.

That should be simple but it’s not. I applied in mid-December by their first deadline (the final deadline was mid-January) and I’ve yet to hear anything. I have to assume that means I’ve been rejected or perhaps wait-listed. Admittedly, “it ain’t over til it’s over” so I shouldn’t write myself off from that program until I get the official word of acceptance or rejection from the school, but the more I think about it, do I even want to go? I’d be spending another 2-3 years being pitifully poor, living off student loans such that I’d graduate with about $60,000+ of debt. With the heavy courseload and required field work, there’s very little time to have a job and they recommend you don’t work any more than 8-10 hours per week. I don’t know how anyone lives on that and the students I spoke with all were taking out loans to cover living expenses which I absolutely don’t want to do.

So that’s a problem. Money is always a major concern for me so being poorer and in deeper debt than I already am sounds like a seriously bad idea.

But what’s the alternative?

Jason and I have been discussing our options and we both agree that staying in Birmingham is our best plan B. We don’t want to have to move again plus right now we couldn’t afford it anyway, so it makes sense to stay where we are. He’s a shoo-in/shoe-in (? where does that phrase even come from?) for UAB which is nationally ranked for their Public Health program (#16 in the nation), so that will work out great for him. But for me? What do I do? Obviously my main goal right now is still getting a legit, full-time, well-paying job (well-paying for me right now means like $12/hr, nothing crazy, ya’ll) so that I can get my current debt under control, support Jason, stop stressing so much about money every second, and think about doing the MPA program at UAB part-time (all classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working people) or an online MPA program. I could pay out of pocket for the classes so I wouldn’t be taking out any more student loans and I could hopefully afford to make significant payments on the loans I have.

I’m already on track to have all of my credit card debt paid off by November next year (I’m paying about $400/mo to my credit card companies right now) and I’d love to be able to afford to pay those off quicker and then tackle my student loans. If I get a job making at least $30,000/yr (which I think is very reasonable) then I can afford to pay at least $600/mo towards my student loans, allowing me to pay them off in 5 years (though really I could pay them off sooner because once my credit card debt is paid off I can devote that $400/mo to my loans totaling $1,000/mo, in which case I can pay them off in about half the time). Being debt free… I have no idea how light and wonderful that must feel!

What do I want to do with my life? Honestly, I don’t even know. Help people in some meaningful way but the “how” is pretty open depending on where the universe takes me and what opportunities come my way. Really right now I just want a decent paying job that I can stand doing for the next three years. Financial security. That’s all I want. Education, career, having a car with heat and a/c and a radio, these things are all secondary right now.

I’m tired of merely surviving; I want to be financially sound. From there, I can move onto bigger, more meaningful things. Here’s hoping.

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