Like most working mothers, I try to juggle work and family as best as I can. Recently, I decided I want to finish my master’s degree that I started many years ago, before I had children. To do so, I learned I would have to take my Graduate Record Exam (GRE) again.
When I saw the GRE practice tests, my first reaction was HOLY MOLY! That was followed by, “No way can I pass this test!” The math problems involved formulas I haven’t seen for 30 years such as the circumference of a circle and the area of a rectangle. The test has algebra, word problems, geometry. I was completely intimidated. I worried how I would ever find the time and energy to re-learn math concepts.
When I sat down to study, I felt overwhelmed. When I took practice tests, my first time around I got almost every problem wrong. But I was committed. I started to look at the exam differently. I know I will never need to know the circumference of a circle or the volume of a cube after the test is over, but I was proving to myself that I had the ability to learn new things. For the last month, I have spend every spare moment learning how to do math problems and memorizing difficult vocabulary words.
Today I took the actual exam and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Learning difficult material at 50 years old is one of the biggest challenges I have taken on. Yet, I’m so glad I did because I proved to myself I can handle a challenge.
If you’re thinking of taking on a challenge — academically, professionally, personally — go for it. It’s a great sense of satisfaction knowing that personal development and work life balance are compatible.
What challenge will you take on before 2016 runs out?