My name is Christen Gibson, and I am labeled as a “non-traditional student” at EKU. I am 27, married, and have two toddlers. I am chasing my dream of becoming a professional journalist.
I tell you this because we need to start normalizing, discovering and chasing our dreams beyond 25. I have met so many people who are depressed because they are in their 30s and haven’t found that career they love yet. I am here to tell you that it is not over yet.
I can see why they are depressed.
Going to college at 27 and as a mom has its challenges. Cranking out quality assignments each week is a struggle, as I have limited babysitters and time. Then there is the stigma that other students have: I am a mom, so I must be old and unrelatable. Professors have the same expectations from me as they do students who live on campus and are not raising babies. This can be intimidating, but you know what? I am up for the challenge.
This is why.
I needed life experience to show me what life was like without an education. Trying to provide for my family as a waitress for a while was crazy, stressful, and hard. Many of you find yourself in those shoes right now. I would not change any of it, though.
I lost my job as a waitress during the pandemic, and my family was unquestionably struggling financially. I felt hopeless.
But it gave me the fire in my gut to press on and do whatever it takes to be successful doing something I love, because I saw how dull life was like at a job that was making me miserable and just not cutting it financially for my family.
I finished my AA and AS degree at my community college in December and dove right into my dream of becoming a journalist by enrolling as a broadcasting and electronic media major.
Do not let the label “non-traditional” hold you back. Use your experiences to drive you to happiness. An education does not guarantee you the perfect career, but chasing it gives you hope and purpose for your life — something that only chasing your dreams can do.
Martha Stewart did not start her first catering business until she was 35.
Vera Wang didn’t make her first bridal gown until she was in her 40s and was an ice-skater and journalist before she ever designed clothes.
J.K Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was denied at 12 publishing companies before she hit success. She was a single mother on welfare and never gave up!
These highly successful women could have played the “non-traditional” card to give up on their true dreams, but they didn’t. They are some of the most successful women in their industries.
Do not give up! Whether you are a mom struggling to pay the bills or just someone who hops from job to job with no feeling of purpose, chase your dreams.
As technology advances, the average life expectancy is 78. If you woke up today, life is not over for you yet. Set a goal and chase it, one step at a time.
It will bring challenges, but your life experiences will push you to reach for something more. Just start, and take it one day at a time.
We can do this!