working things out

dead end
I have spent these past few weeks sitting on my front porch, thinking. I knew something was wrong but what did I have to be depressed about?

So I sat and I thought and sat some more. I even tried some of those roll your own cigarettes I wrote about because I heard that nicotine can help clear the cobwebs. (I promise, it was regular tobacco, not that wacky-baccy ;)) Nothing worked and I ended up spending even more time on the porch, puzzling things out.

I started becoming concerned with myself. Normally I can brush things off but I found myself unable to even write a single journal entry, much less a blog post. All I could do is sit there and stare at the screen.

I finally figured out that I was disheartened at the fact that school was out of reach this year. The discovery surprised me; why was I so upset?

I finally came to the conclusion that my depression stems from several things:

  • I feel like a complete idiot for messing up that loan. I mean, how stupid could I be to not know I had a $2,000 student loan to pay off? How many times have I gotten more than that in income tax refunds – I could have easily paid it off had I known it was there! What type of idiot does that?
  • The desire to go back to school was stronger than I thought. I guess I buried this desire over the years and never acknowledged how badly I really wanted to continue my education.
  • I feel as if I’ve wasted too much time already. I’m 43 years old; over half of that has been spent raising kids and trying to do the right thing by my family. When I gave myself permission to go back to school it was like releasing a spring that has been coiled since I was a teen.
  • Why even bother going back to school? I’m so old that no one in the computer field will hire me. I’ll be hanging out with people young enough to be my kids….
  • Who the hell am I to think that I can go back to school anyway? Seriously, I’m a financial bottom-feeder. I’m so far under the poverty line I can’t even see the thing! I learned how to live on less because I didn’t have a choice and poor people (especially females) don’t go back to school – they find a guy to help them out and accept their lot in life. Who the hell am I to think that I should be any different?
  • If I wasn’t such a bottom-feeder I would have the cash to pay off that stupid loan and get on with my life. This falls under “coulda woulda shoulda” but the thought is there regardless.

Wrong or right, these are the thoughts echoing through my skull right now. Since I’m sick of moping it is time I deal with them and move on.

This is my way of acknowledging these thoughts and feelings. I haven’t talked about this even to my physical friends – I’ve just not been ready for that. Instead I’ve put on a happy face while hoping no one notices.

You noticed, though. I’ve got the emails to prove it. That’s why I love you guys – you keep me sane.

I have a choice though. I can sit here and mope or I can figure out a way to make it better. Perhaps I can write enough ebooks to pay off the loan early? That would remove the black mark and allow me to maybe go to school sooner.

What do you think?

Thank you so much for your help during my current challenge. You are awesome!

15 thoughts on “working things out

  1. Shvetal

    Hi Annie.
    I’m a new reader in the field of minimalism and have only recently discovered your blog. There are some things I wanted to say based on the few posts that I have read so far.
    1. You are inspirational! For wanting to study at this age, for finding within yourself the dream and the motivation to follow that dream.
    2. As someone who has spent a lot of time in colleges, I can say that the best institution is one which teaches you how to learn. Especially in a field like programming, which keeps changing and one has to keep updating oneself. As someone who already knows how to learn and how to teach one’s self, you don’t need college. They need you, to remind themselves what a passion for education can be.
    3. Whether in college or at work, the ‘young people’ may only be able to tell about the cool things going around right now, whereas you’ll be able to tell them the best things about life.
    I wish you all the best on your journey. I hope the money thing gets sorted out and you get to go to college. I’m sure you’ll figure out everything that life throws at you. Good luck!

  2. Elizabeth Danu

    Hi Annie,I think going back to school is a fabulous idea! So you have an obstacle. You’ll move through it because you are resourceful. Use the energy you could use kicking yourself to get creative and pay off that loan. You can do it, and faster than you think.
    And, 43 is NOT old!
    Love, Elizabeth

  3. Eric West

    I go through periods on total non-productivity, where I feel drained and unable to find the ambition to do much of anything. I usually take that as a sign that my body and/or brain needs a break.

    Don’t spend too much time worrying about the student loan you forgot about. That kind of thing happens sometimes. Just be happy it was such a small amount (relatively speaking as far as student loans go.)

    I see you as more of a freelancer rather than an employee. If you go that route, you’ll have years of life experience to boost your abilities. Not everyone wants kids right out of college working on their projects. In that case your age can be an advantage.

    Even if you go the employee route you should focus on your age as a strength. All you really need to do is prove you have the technical ability.

    Enjoy the downtime and the sadness. Sometimes it’s good to feel down. As long as it doesn’t last to long, consider it a break from the positive thinking you usually do.

    Things always work out, and when the time is right everything will start falling into place.

  4. Michele Messier

    I think you should keep writing and do what you like, don’t feel pressured to do something that you are uncomfortable with. Remember you are not alone, there are other older people with thoughts of going back to school and with financial difficulties, this economy is for the birds. Just don’t give up. Don’t forget to eat healthy and take your vitamins to keep you strong. Have an insightful day!!

  5. Stephan

    I agree with everything Eric says above. I’m 55 and getting ready to start the third semester of my engineering degree program. I’ll be about 60 when I achieve my BS in engineering. My parents never got a degree and I’ll be the first of my siblings to get one. I’ve always wanted a degree in engineering, if for no other reason but to say “I did it”. We have lived below the poverty line for as long as I can remember and I’m hoping that my example can be an inspiration to those around me. I too have a defaulted loan from a LONG time ago and am ineligible for grants and loans at this time. I’ve been working on resolving it for some time now and recently found out that if I make 6, on time, agreed upon monthly payments I will be eligible again. That’s only 6 months. I also learned that they will take as little as 1% of the defaulted amount as a monthly payment. For you that’s about $20 a month. You are 6 months ($120) away from being eligible for financial aid. 6 Months seems like forever sometimes, but it will go by quickly. It might take you that long to sell enough e books to make $2000 extra. If college is really a dream for you, you are very close to getting there. I say hang in there, make those monthly payments, and you’ll be in college before you know it. If you get a public job at the age of 45 or 46 you still have at least 20 years to give to an employer.

  6. Belinda

    Annie! What courage you have to bring these feelings to the table. I have been wondering about you and was on the verge of checking up on you when this post appeared.

    Isn’t it amazing how the best people can beat themselves up? Think of yourself as you would think of your daughter or a dear friend. Would you belittle them for overlooking something? For their age? For feeling blue when a cherished dream became sidetracked? I am certain you wouldn’t. Exceptional people hold themselves to high standards. This is a good thing a lot of the time, but not when it leads you to forget that you can make silly human mistakes. This one is totally fixable.

    I wouldn’t blame you for just being so frustrated for not being able to do something (attend school) when you are ready. You have taken on so much successfully. You cannot do this when you want to. It is not fair, but it is fixable. I have confidence that you will fix it.

    So, forgive yourself for your imperfections as you would forgive anyone else. As you have listed those things you see as your faults, list your strengths. Remember who you are. You are someone who struggles against serious odds and prevails. You will do that here.

    I am so very glad to see you back.

    PS — 43 is not old at all. You are only as old as you feel. When you are back up to snuff and remembering the awesome woman you are, you will no longer feel too old . I am sure of this.

  7. Belinda

    Dear Annie,

    Welcome back! That you for your courage and honesty.

    I hope you can give yourself some compassion — in the same way you would to a beloved friend or child. You made a very understandable oversight with the loan. You are now temporarily frustrated in moving forward. Forgive yourself and the situation. You are a thousand times bigger than this.

    As for being too old, 43 is not too old at all. Once you are back to your “can do” self, you will no longer feel too old . That is the doubt speaking.

    You can conquer this step by step as you have so many things in your life. I hope that you will share the process with us.

    “Whether you believe you can or you cannot, you are right.” H.S. Truman. Join the rest of us in believing you can.

    All good wishes,

  8. Belinda

    Oops. Henry Ford, not Harry S Truman on the quote — I had forgotten — just checked.
    Be well, Annie. Be strong when you regain your strength. If you need to mourn the postponed opportunity, then mourn, but do come back from it. Setbacks and disappointments are losses, and losses remind us of other losses and struggles. It seems that you are feeling the weight of many disappointments. You deserve time to grieve them. Then, once you have, you will move forward again, because that is what you do.

  9. Lana B.

    Dear Annie, don’t give up your desire to go to school. College is so much more than classes; it also opens completely new perspectives in your life and perception. Just keep paying that loan down.

  10. Alexandra

    My dad is in his mid-seventies and still working his degree, and he started another career in his 60’s! Forty something is still young enough to reap the rewards of a degree and/or advanced training in something. GO FOR IT!

  11. Anna

    I don’t understand this living below the poverty line thing. You have enough money to rent a house, feed and clothe yourself and your daughter. You are a great blogger and I find what you write interesting and I look forward to your posts. I don’t see what the big deal is about going back to school? You seem to be doing great working from home. Do you know how many of us would kill to be able to work from home and live off that income? I have an MBA and so what? I could buy a few homes with the money that I owe on my loan. At the end of the day, does it really matter? Plus, if you really want to work somewhere as an IT person you already have the experience for it, since you were self employed working on computers. You have plenty to put on your resume NOW even if you don’t go to school. I can help you with your resume when you are ready.

  12. Debbie

    Hey Annie, You had a plan to go back to college and a roadblock has been thrown up (the loan). Remember it is a roadblock and not the end of the road. You are doing the right thing in slowing down and backing up to see the whole picture again. You have not been stopped but delayed for awhile. Things happen for a reason and you are not helping by beating yourself up. The other commenters have listed the great qualities you have. Read them again. Get off the porch and start moving even walking. It might help you get a better perspective if you focus on what you can do to change things instead of focusing on what you can’t change. I too am going thru something that I can’t change, but I can change how I react to it. I’ve read you for years way back to your struggles with quitting a job outside your home. You will get thru this….give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself.


Your comments are appreciated. Thanks!