As I look at my students, I often think I’d have been better off to let my life “happen” to me. Why? Because you can get an education at any time. You can get an education after you have your 11 kids, you can get an education after your divorce, you can get an education after you have a parent die. You can choose education, whatever you’ve done before. By choosing education first, it means I’ve not chosen other things. And it means that it makes those other things harder. And that is a rude fucking awakening.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate in life (I’m so happy now!), although there were certainly rough patches. Today people are often startled to hear I have an eleven-year-old daughter (no, I wasn’t a baby, I turned 25 the year she was born, and she was planned and much desired), but really, I think she fit into my life-career schedule just perfectly.
I’ve always found my mother’s career-path inspiring. She did a PhD in the seventies, but, well, I suppose actually part of the problem was that the jobs weren’t where we were. But when my sister and I were 10 or 12 or so, she retrained – starting from high school level physics, which girls couldn’t take in her day – all the way up to an engineering degree and working on an MA in physics. She’s been enjoying her career in engineering ever since. Several of her friends have done similar career reversals. I really like to know that if I ever get sick of blogs and/or academia, I could always become an engineer – or a pilot, or an architect, or anything really. Would only take a few years’ studying.