Dear Kelly,

I wanted to graduate a little sooner, so I signed up for extra classes this summer. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I have kids, a job and a husband. I don’t want to drop; do you have any advice about how I can make it through the summer?

First, I need you to know that you can do this. My initial thought is you wouldn’t have signed up for the challenge if you didn’t think you would be successful. I think the anxiety you have now is the same feeling that so many of us get. We sign up for the race, we train for the race, we even prepare and suit up for the race. But when we’re walking up to the starting line, there is a still small voice inside our heads whispering, “What were you thinking? You can’t do this.”

The truth is: You can do this. You’re just going to have to be very proactive and advocate for your goals, all while juggling life’s challenges. You have to start by telling yourself that you can handle this. When negative thoughts pop into your head, you’re going to have to counteract them with positive self-talk. Take some time to meditate on the challenges you have already overcome in your life, obstacles that helped to define the person you are today. Take a moment to jot down your goals — goals that will not only propel your own future but also have a profound and phenomenal effect on the future of your family. Each time you begin to feel overwhelmed, reflect on those goals and the moment that you wrote them down. How did you feel as you were writing them? Keep in mind how inspired you were to think about your future possibilities.

Next, develop a schedule that will benefit you and your family, all while being able to meet the goals of the courses you will be taking. Schedule everything — when you will work, when you will be in class, when you will do homework, what time dinner is, and when you will be fully devoted to spending time with your family. Developing great time management skills will help you allot the time you need for your job and your coursework, while also having sufficient time to dedicate to your family. This will also help your family to adjust, as they will know when you will be able to focus primarily on them.

In addition, this may also motivate your husband to fill in during your absence. Truthfully, I have been married for 28 years, and while your partner may seem to stand back while you take on most of the responsibilities, often, he just doesn’t know you need help. Sometimes, he needs to be empowered and encouraged to help out. Just know, his way of helping out may be different than the way you would normally do things, but during this time, if he’s trying, then I encourage you to let him handle it, so you can focus on your classes.

Sometimes it’s easier, and quieter, to get away to study, rather than trying to study at home. I know this, and I only have a husband living in the house. I can’t imagine how it would be if my sons still lived at home. This is one of the reasons why Mercer University’s campuses in Macon, Atlanta, Henry County and Douglas County, will be open throughout the summer — to provide a place for students to study, meet and collaborate, or to access a computer or the library.

While the next eight weeks will be challenging, I believe that once you are past them, you will be so glad you went ahead and took those extra courses. Furthermore, facing the challenge and overcoming it will empower you to accept new challenges with the confidence that you have what it takes to conquer them victoriously. And, in the meantime, your family will have a chance to witness what perseverance, sacrifice, dedication, tenacity and commitment look like. You will be the example of what it looks like to not only want something but to also work tirelessly to achieve it. You’ve got this!

As always, I wish you health, happiness, and continued success throughout your journey!

Kelly Browning, a master’s student and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at kelly.l.browning@live.mercer.edu or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

 

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Kelly Browning is pursuing a Master of Education in higher education leadership and is student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center.