I have been postponing my post graduate education for some a couple of years now. I graduated in 2019. While I was still in law school I had this idea that I should complete my postgraduate studies as soon as I am done with my schooling. But I didn’t end up applying for any courses because the semester I had to apply in – I opted to go for an exchange programme instead. Looking back, I think that was a good decision.
So, I thought I’ll work for a couple of years, and then when I have some practical experience along with a clearer idea of what I want to do, I’ll re-enter university.
I’m glad I did that because a couple of months into my profession and I knew, sure as anything, that it was not for me. This decision wasn’t born of any dissatisfaction I had with the workplace or any other such external factors. In fact, I did a lot of soul searching before coming to this conclusion. It isn’t easy to look back at 5 years of schooling and then 1 year of work and write it off as ‘sunk cost’. A lot of career counsellors talk about this concept a fair bit. We are afraid to make such life altering decisions even when we know it will be good for us because we are wary of losing the sunk cost. But that is just what it is. It’s already gone. That is what the word ‘sunk’ means right. You can’t get back the 6 years you’ve spent on this one thing now, but you can make sure that the 6 years doesn’t become 10 years. Now, I’m not mathematical genius, but even I can tell 10 is worse than 6. Another work-guru told me to assess my work in terms of factors that are ‘situational’ and ‘fundamental’ to decide if I really want to leave my line of work or not.
Situational factors are things external to your actual work. Things like the manager you have, the work environment, whether people in your office gossip about you and what not. These are not things which are inherent to the work you do.
Fundamental factors are things inherent to what you’re doing. For example if you’re a lawyer, something fundamental to your work would be reviewing contracts, drafting, researching etc. If you dislike these things, then, well, it might be smart to look up another line of employment.
After deliberating a lot, I realised that the things I loved about my job were all situational. Things like my boss, my colleagues, the office space itself and what not. What I didn’t like about my job was the actual work I had to do. I found it boring to say the least. So, I decided to quit it to try some other things out.
You know something no one talks about when you decide to quit? How much harder it is to quit when you are good at something. Because then, even if you’re not enjoying yourself or you’re convinced you have some other purpose in life, you’ll always doubt your aptitude to mean something more than it does. Maybe I find it so easy because I’m good at this. And because I am good at this, I must be meant for this. Of all the things that held me back, this was possibly the biggest factor.
When I was quitting, I convinced myself I would apply for my post-graduate studies so that my time off wasn’t “wasted”. The application deadlines for most of the programmes I want to go for are towards the end of December / early January. And I haven’t started anything. I was so sure I was going to apply for it this year. And yet, here I am, watching endless videos on how to make the perfect homemade pasta sauce. If I had to think about it, I think I can come up with a few reasons why I don’t want to make the effort just yet.
My god, does it cost. Especially the degree I want. I want to go to business school, and they’re really not kidding when they say this is one of the most expensive courses in the world. I understand the rationale behind why it is so expensive to get this degree, especially from a school of some repute. There is this idea that once you graduate you’re going to work an incredibly high paying job and you’ll make the money back. I guess they’re right about that. Be that as it may, it is still a huge commitment to make. And I know we are supposed to view it as “investing” in ourselves and our futures, but it is scary to me. I mean, I know myself. Would I really want to spend that kind of money on me? I don’t know. I want the degree, but I also want myself to be completely sure before committing to it.
I resent the idea that certain things in your life have to happen by a certain time. You’ve got to finish university by such and such age, or you should have decided on a job and career path by such and such age, or you should be done with all your studying and be ready to start a family by such age. I don’t know who came up with this time table and why all of us are so hell bent on following it. I find myself panicking about this sometimes. Then I have to actively stop myself from rushing into making an application for whichever college I land on first. I want to take my time with it, but somehow this feels like a radical idea at times.
Most of the things I want to learn, I can learn without ever having to leave my room. I’ve heard way too many people questioning the value of a traditional education to go into it with the kind of blind faith I had earlier. I mean, I am pretty much a traditionalist still. And I think there are some things – like meeting new people, shifting to a new city etc. – which online and informal education can’t provide. But the more I look into it, the more I find myself questioning whether I should make the leap.