My Boring, Responsible “Midlife Crisis”

2 years ago, I began what is possibly the most boring mid/quarter-life crisis ever.

I’d been working in the field of video production for about 5 or 6 years at that point. I had the same job I got right out of college and was feeling a little burned out. I’d tried a lot of different things to get excited about the field: starting a YouTube channel, working in freelance, taking extra classes at a community college, looking for a new job (unsuccessfully) but nothing seemed to work. It seemed like every day at work I felt like I would much rather be outside running or watching interesting videos about advanced physics and chemistry on YouTube.

I decided that it might be time to explore a full career change. I began by finding any career aptitude test online that I could take for free. I talked to my wife. I talked to friends. I talked to anyone who seemed to like their career and asked about why they chose it.

During this time, I had started running a lot — I ran the Boston Marathon in 2018. Now anyone who has started running knows that injury and running go hand in hand. I was constantly researching online about my running injuries and reading articles about anatomy and exercises for recovery and prevention.

I would also come home from work and try to help my daughter Leah, who has Down Syndrome, learn how to walk up stairs, or jump on the trampoline, or do other therapy activities. In the end, with my wife’s blessing, I decided to start taking classes to become a physical therapist.

If you were to draw a venn diagram depicting “classes for a communication degree” and “prerequisites for physical therapy school” it would look like two separate circles.

Venn diagram comparing classes for a communication degree and prerequisites for physical therapy school.

A communication degree involves a lot of writing, creativity, group projects, and no math. The prerequisites for PT School involve biology, psychology, chemistry, physics, and a lot of math.

My first semester I took chemistry, biology, psychology, and trigonometry. And I loved it. I loved how much work it was. I loved how much I was able to learn. I loved how objective it is. In video production and marketing, everyone has an opinion. There isn’t a right answer to questions like how to light this scene, how to market this product; it is very subjective. In science and math, there is a right answer. It was refreshing.

Then came the question, how do we pay for all of these classes? I continued working full-time and was able to take morning and night classes. But the real reason I was able to pay for 2 ½ years of full-time undergraduate classes was because of Chanae. Chanae began working for VIPKid. This is a company that teaches kids in China how to speak English through a virtual classroom. It pays well, but the only drawbacks are the hours. Chanae began waking up at 3:00 in the morning to teach until 6 or 7. Then the kids would wake up and we would get them breakfast and off to school. I would leave around the same time for my classes and wouldn’t get home until after their bedtime most nights. And this became our new routine.

Here is an example of one of my craziest semesters.

Monday 4:30 — Wake up, study
6:30 — Girls wake up, breakfast (sometimes) shower, get girls dressed and fed (sometimes),
7:30 — Leave to go to Chemistry
8:00 — Chemistry
8:50 — Leave school and drive to work
9:30 — Get to work
5:45 — Leave work and go back to school
6:30 — Statistics
8:20 — Leave statistics
8:45 — Arrive home

Tuesday 4:30 — Wake up, study
6:30 — Girls wake up, breakfast (sometimes) shower, get girls dressed and fed (sometimes),
7:30 — Leave to go to Chemistry
8:00 — Chemistry
8:50 — Leave school and drive to work
9:30 — Get to work
4:15 — Leave work and go back to school
5:00 — Biology
7:00 — Biology Lab
9:00 — Leave Biology Lab
9:30 — Arrive home — Study.
10:00 — Go to bed

Wednesday 4:30 — Wake up, study
6:30 — Girls wake up, breakfast (sometimes) shower, get girls dressed and fed (sometimes),
7:30 — Leave to go to Chemistry
8:00 — Chemistry
8:50 — Leave school and drive to work
9:30 — Get to work
5:45 — Leave work and go back to school
6:30 — Statistics
8:20 — Leave statistics
8:45 — Arrive home, Study
10:00 — Go to bed

Thursday 4:30 — Wake up, study
6:30 — Girls wake up, breakfast (sometimes) shower, get girls dressed and fed (sometimes),
7:30 — Leave to go to Chemistry
8:00 — Chemistry
8:50 — Leave school and drive to work
9:30 — Get to work
4:15 — Leave work and go back to school
5:00 — Biology
7:00 — Leave Biology
7:30 — Arrive home to help put the girls in bed, Study
10:00 Go to bed

Friday 4:30 — Wake up, study
6:30 — Girls wake up, breakfast (sometimes) shower, get girls dressed and fed (sometimes),
7:30 — Leave to go to Chemistry Lab
8:00 — Chemistry Lab
9:30–10:30 — Leave Chemistry lab and drive to work
10–11 — Arrive at work and work around 10 hours
8:00 — Leave work8:30 — Arrive home, study

Saturday 4:30 — Wake up, study
6:20 — Go to work at Physical Therapy Clinic for shadowing hours
10:00 — Finish working, go home
10:10 — See family.

Along with this, Chanae was waking up at 2:30 every morning (except for Sunday) to teach English to students in China. She worked from 3:00 until 6:30 or 7:00. Once that was done, she got the girls ready for the day, fed them if I didn’t have time (which was quite often), sent Leah off to school, and then put in a few hours in her social media job.

On top of all this, Chanae took Leah to Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy every other week and a Speech Therapist came to our house weekly. She drove Leah to a reading class in Layton, Violin Lessons in Pleasant Grove, and the girls’ dance class in Orem each week. Oh, and Ainsley had a weekly music class as well.

She also put a lot of work into planning and running monthly Relief Society Activities. She was released and now teaches Singing Time for the kids at church.

Oh, and Chanae was also pregnant during this time. So every morning at 5 I had to take her some toast so she didn’t throw up.

As things ramped up and it started to look like I wasn’t going to fail all my classes, I felt that I should tell my boss at work. I couldn’t have gotten a more supportive response. She was very excited for me. She told me to let her know if we needed to move anything around to accommodate my classes, and even suggested that I might be able to stay on part-time once PT School started — which I am now doing.

I finished my last semester just as Covid hit. I took my last class virtually — which wasn’t fun. Then it came time to apply to PT School.

I applied to 6 different schools:

The University of Utah

Rocky Mountain University

Duke

Baylor

Touro University Nevada

University of Puget Sound

Then the waiting began. The first school I heard back from was Baylor. Baylor offers a 2-year program that is a hybrid of online classes and in-person labs. The appeals were that it is a year shorter than other programs and you can attend from anywhere, as long as you can fly down once a semester to do your labs. They offered me a spot very early on, but the fact that I struggled so much in the only virtual class that I had to take in my prerequisites made me feel like the hybrid system wouldn’t be the best for me. I decided to decline their offer and hope that one of my other schools would work.

The next school I heard back from was Duke. They have an amazing program, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to move across the country. The unknown seemed very appealing. I felt like my interviews went well, and I was anxious to hear back from them. Then… I got put on the waitlist. That was a big blow towards my confidence. Up until this point, I felt like I would be getting offers from all my schools. I had really good grades, did well on the GRE, and I had a unique story; getting put on the waitlist was unexpected.

Rocky Mountain contacted me next. They are a private school here in Utah that is fairly new but have a good program. Some of my daughter’s physical therapists went there and I have heard a lot of good things about the school. The interview went well and they quickly offered me a spot. They told me that I needed to respond before January 15th.

Here is the problem: The University of Utah had been my 1st choice since I’d decided to go to PT school and they don’t do interviews until January 22nd. When you accept an offer at a school you are required to put down a non-refundable deposit to hold your spot. The University of Utah is a really good school and highly competitive. They only offer 50 spots a year and a good portion of those are for out-of-state applicants, while another portion are for female applicants. It was very likely that I wouldn’t get accepted there. However, if I did get accepted, that would mean that I would pay $1,000 to save my spot at Rocky Mountain, then have to pay another $750 to save my spot at University of Utah. And I still hadn’t heard anything from Duke saying if I was off the waitlist yet, so everything was up in the air.

The University of Utah said to expect an email about my status in the application process no later than the second week of December. And sure enough, during that second week, I got an email from them. However, it didn’t have a date or time for the interview. It was an email informing me that I was a “direct-admit candidate.” They were offering me a spot, no interview necessary! I didn’t even know this was an option! I wondered if it was a new thing that they were doing because of Covid. I set up a quick meeting just to learn more about the program and make sure it would be a good fit for me. They told me that this was something that they started in 2019. I felt really good about accepting this offer, so I did.

I eventually got into all 6 of the schools that I applied for but we felt good about the University of Utah.

I officially started my first day of PT school today!

The next few years of my life are going to be crazy, challenging, and different. But I am excited for what lies ahead.