Pod-therapy: How podcasting helped me manage my anxiety about going back to school

There are many reasons why people start a podcast. Mine was fueled by a mix of creative expression and fear. In the Spring of 2018, I decided to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree in communications and technology. This was part of a bigger life reinvention project. For years, I thought about going back to school. I had left my job in radio in late 2017 and the time finally felt right to pursue this goal. 

It had been over two decades since I completed my undergrad in business administration. I’m well into my 40s and while I have spent time in the classroom in the last few years, it’s been as a teacher, not a student!  The idea of being a student and managing all the reading and writing, as well as being graded, it was all a little overwhelming. There was this sense of wondering if I would be able to keep up with everyone else, who I assumed were younger, smarter, better and more equipped to deal with the rigors of academia. That’s what inspired me to take making a podcast. By talking to other mid-life learners who are either on the journey or who’ve recently completed it, I was hoping to find my tribe as well as inspire others who might be thinking about this journey for themselves.

As a former radio executive, I love audio and I love podcasts. Audio is such a powerful, intimate medium that builds connections. However, even though I worked in radio for over a decade, it was never behind the microphone. Having the chance to create such a personal project and find my voice as a means of working through my fears about returning to school was another way that I challenged myself. Ira Glass talks about the gap creators have between what they want to make and what they can make, at least in the beginning of their creative endeavors. I learned to embrace my imperfect creation when I launched the Back to School Again podcast in September 2018. I told myself that even if nobody listened, it was still a win because having that conversation helped me. That alone made it worthwhile! It was sort of like - pod-therapy. 

I stumbled through all the usual hurdles that newbie podcasters encounter such as getting my artwork sized correctly, setting up my Apple podcast feed (it was a nightmare!) and learning to be OK with my own voice. I had so much support from a great community that included Karen Unland and the many talented creators at the Alberta Podcast Network, the good folks at Transistor who made setting up my website and podcast feeds easy, friends who helped me manage the social media workload and my sponsor, NorQuest College. These people and organizations continue to be key supports for me in my podcasting journey. 

Season two of my show, Back to School Again, is set to launch this September. Once again, I’ve had incredible guests share their inspirational stories with me. I feel so fortunate having this platform to share their stories so that we can learn from each other, encourage each other and help each other. Podcasting has made my back to school experience richer and more rewarding than ever and making this show reminds me that I’m not alone.


KATRINA INGRAM (SHE/HER), BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN

Follow Katrina on Twitter: @ katragram
Follow Back to School Again on Twitter: @ schoolagainpod

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