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I Quit Grad School — By Lisa Linh

Last July, I announced that I was starting a new chapter and going back to school. I signed up for a Master’s program that would have led me to become a Marriage & Family Therapist (read all about it here). I was so excited to have finally “found my purpose” in life and jumped right into the program, with some expectations and research on what to expect. I knew it was going to take roughly 3 to 4 years, with clinical hours, to get certified after taking the licensure exam. I knew that California had slightly different requirements than other states and that while we have a good amount of practicing therapists now, the diversity was still lacking. I knew that online schooling was going to require a lot of discipline and I was ready to balance my business with it. I was able to attend college full-time while holding down a full-time job, part-time job, and worked on the side as a club promoter in my 20’s so how much harder could it be in your 30’s right? At least I’m my own boss now, for the most part, so I have full control over my schedule. I had an idea but as with most ideas, they don’t always go the way you plan it. So after a year and a half, I officially withdrew from my program and am walking away from grad school.

So what changed if I already “knew” what I was getting into? I enjoyed my program and while a lot of the readings were really just busywork, I appreciated what I learned — and I did learn a great deal. I enjoyed the process and found joy in acing all my classes, but I also felt that I wasn’t truly learning. It was that feeling that I was learning just enough to ace my assignments but had no urge or interest in doing more. I had no passion for going beyond what was asked for and that was my first red flag. When I truly love something and am really passionate, I typically go 110% in. For example, I worked on By Lisa Linh before, after, and sometimes during my corporate job in 2014. I spent every waking hour and sacrificed sleep, I was so excited and happy working on it every chance I got and the fire in me was just blazing. With grad school, I was happy with doing it but never jumping over the moon with joy if that makes sense? After the first year, I started feeling unmotivated whenever it came to doing my assignments. I spent more time finding excuses to procrastinate and I found myself keeping quiet more often about school. If someone asked about it, I’d just tell them it was going fine. What caught me off guard were friends who then asked, “but you like it right?” I always hesitated to answer that question but would force a smile and say, “oh yeah. of course.” I was lying to them and to myself.

At 32, society expects you to have your shit together or at least have an idea of what you want to really do by now. I’m supposed to think about my future and start “acting serious”, but does that mean that what I’m doing right now isn’t serious enough? I know people still find it hard to believe that being a lifestyle and wellness blogger + content creator is a “real job”. However, I’ve been doing it since 2014 and quit my corporate job back in 2015/2016. Success is a personal standard and everyone has their own definition of it but I’d like to think I am well off .. so why do I still have to figure my life out? Why is it that people assume that I can’t do what I’m doing forever? Why is it that the first reaction and response I get when I tell people that I’ve decided to quit grad school is, “what are you going to do then?” Well, what I’ve been doing – running my brand/business full-time, alone. Aside from KSOLE helping with some production of content, I’m a one-woman show and this is enough.

We should not have to be forced or intimated into a path that we “invested so much time and money into” when we’re unhappy. “Don’t let “investment” and “time” be the deciding factors on whether or not you stay on your current path. If you’re not happy then do something about it. You’re allowed to grow, change, and adjust as many times as you need it — and you are not a failure just because you didn’t finish what you started.

We should not question people with their choices right off the bat, show a little support, and please don’t ask them “so what are you doing to do then?” right away because sometimes we don’t have a fucking clue what we’re going to do next and that’s OK. Life is about exploring yourself, your interests, seeing what works and what doesn’t – for you. So hold up your head, be glad and proud that you’ve tried whatever it is, and have found that it’s just not for you. Walk away and don’t you dare feel guilty at all. It was not time wasted, it was a time spent learning.

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