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Working mom takes on a challenge




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.  As I began, I realized there were questions on it I hadn't studied. During the first section, I ran out of time without finishing. It was a test taker's nightmare, especially when there is no penalty for guessing. I was upset with myself. But as I went on, things got better.

At the end of the exam, I learned that my score was one point off what I need to get into the program I'm interested in. There's a chance it will be considered  "close enough". But if it isn't, I'm okay with that. I know I can study and improve on my score. 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?