Monday, October 18, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 3: Something you have to forgive yourself for

Something you have to forgive yourself for. This is an easy one. Well, not easy per say, but this one? I have the answer right away. Even if I haven't actually forgiven myself for it.

Dropping out of college.

I? Should have been the 1st one in my immediate family to graduate college. My dad's dad was his high school class Valedictorian, but could not go on to college because he had to work. My mom's dad was in the military. My mom's mom went to nursing school. My dad started community college and left to manage a store. My mom went to photography school.

From the time I was small, I knew I was going to college and I was going to graduate. I was going to Brown University to play field hockey like my mom's cousin did. Fast forward to high school and I was playing field hockey and loving it, but had nowhere near the grades to go to Brown thanks to my math and science scores from Jr high and on.

Senior year my boyfriend (now husband) and I applied to UMass Amherst together. It was his #1 pick and after seeing it I too fell in love with not only the idea of us going away together, but also the campus. It was just far enough away where I could come home when I really wanted, but I was also just far enough... Away.

When I got my acceptance I was beyond ecstatic. I sent in the paperwork right away, and we waited on his letter. I will never forget standing there at the supermarket register that day of work when he came in for his shift and told me he didn't get in. Being 17, I ran to the bathroom and cried. We were supposed to go Together.

He ended up at a military academy in VT and I went to UMass. I missed him more than anything, but that 1st semester? I LOVED it there! The parties, the new friends, everything about the campus. I did well in most classes as a communications major - but Tanked math as usual, leaving me on academic probation. I had 1 semester to clean up as a freshman.

Over the break I decided communications was not only too easy but boring, and what I really wanted to do, was teach physical education. They had just dropped PE from the curriculum (which was my minor) and my 'advisor' as the university called the man, placed me in classes with juniors and seniors taking things like 'kinesiology' - as a Freshman. What can I say, I failed out. For years I told people I partied too hard, but that? was a lie. I was in over my head, didn't know how to ask for help and threw myself into Army ROTC while essentially giving up on everything else.

How I wish sometimes I could go back and shake myself and never have switched from communications. I know deep down I would have that degree right now. I went home and sulked about going to the local community college that I knew was beneath me. I learned very fast that I was wrong. It was hard work. I worked my butt off and aced my classes and reapplied to some new schools.

With my heart set on Plymouth State, I got in but couldn't afford the tuition - it was down to URI or RIC. I'd been misinformed about RIC being the better school for teaching. While it may be great, physical education was different - they were turning a 4yr program into 5 and 6 years, always changing the curriculum. The credits I was promised would transfer did not all transfer - and because I didn't get in in writing, I had nothing. It killed me to have to take classes over again but I did it. I did well in school (anatomy aside - which I took - and dropped 3x), but I missed my boyfriend so much. Friday morning class? No problem, sign me up. But if it met in the afternoon? Or had a Saturday requirement? Hell No I was not taking it - that would interfere with me going to VT for a weekend - or cut into my time if he came home.

Also, I was working almost full time outside of school on top of that. By the time he graduated from college only 1 semester late, I was still looking at another year and a half with the way the curriculum kept changing. I was low on money, frustrated with the school, and just.needed.a.break. Even though I had convinced a girlfriend to stick with school and not take that 1 semester off because she would never go back, I didn't take my own advice.

It was just 1 semester I told myself. 1 semester.

I got a full time job and before I knew it I had started a career that really, I did not love and fell into by complete accident. But it was a career and I was good at it and when I started making the money... college no longer seemed important. I felt like I was smart enough without it. For a few semesters I would take a night class here or there but I didn't get much further. By the time we got married, I had stopped going all together. At the time? It didn't bother me at all.

Fast forward to becoming a stay at home mom after having 3 kids in the span of 18 months. I loved it, I hated it, but there was nothing else I wanted more than to be home with my kids. Now that they are all getting ready to enter school though, I feel myself getting nervous. What AM I going to do? The economy sucks. I have no college degree. I have essentially been Out of the workforce for years. HOW in the Hell do former stay at home mom's do this without taking some crap job?

I was So much Smarter than This. I AM smarter than this. Looking back, while I know I still would have made all of the very same decisions that I did... I kick myself. I feel as if I have set a horrible example for my kids. I know I can go back, I say I am going to go back - but When I don't know. And that scares me. It also upsets me I was not the 1st one to go on and graduate from college. That distinction went to my younger sister. And I don't mean to take anything away from her, she worked hard and totally deserved it. But there's that small voice I can't silence sometimes that says it should have been me. I should have gotten my degree.

I also know if I had, my life would have taken a bit of a different course. Yes my husband and I would still have gotten married and had kids, but maybe at a different time. Maybe I wouldn't have had THESE kids who I love to pieces and would never want to trade, as much as I joke about it. These are the things I need to look at when I'm down on myself for not finishing college... because I CAN always go back. Forgiving myself for not doing it the right way though? That's still a work in progress I guess.

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