I went to college for a long time. Several colleges, actually. It's kind of the family joke (or is it I'm kind of the family joke? Eh-- semantics). I am fairly intelligent I guess. Not a genius, by any stretch of the imagination, but I can hold my own. And I always did very well in school without too much effort. But I have never had any light bulb go off in my head or any "aha" moment in life that said, that is what I want to do with my life. The only thing I knew for sure I wanted to do was to be a mom. Check! But a career path? Nothing ever really came to me.
I remember in high school one of my favorite teachers talking to me about what I wanted to do with my life and I said something like, "I don't know... I'll probably end up being a teacher like everyone else in my family." He said, "Don't do that. You're too smart to be a teacher." I don't think he meant that only the dumb should be molding the world's young minds, just that he apparently thought I had gifts that would be better put to use elsewhere. I'm pretty sure he was wrong though.
I also remember a similar conversation with another one of my favorite teachers (I liked school, I liked most of my teachers, ya I guess I'm a nerd). This one said to me, "You'll probably end up being a teacher like everyone else in your family." I felt like he was trying to seal the deal on a fate I thought I wanted to escape, but I started to think, would being a teacher be so bad? I liked my teachers, wouldn't kids like me too? I had a major desire to learn new things (along with a major desire to skip as much school as possible and stay part of the in crowd, but I managed to do a halfway decent job at balancing both of those), wouldn't I get to teach kids who would love to learn to? (The answers to those questions turned out to be, some of them, and even fewer of them, in case you were curious.)
There was yet another woman at my high school who wasn't a teacher but rather the curriculum coordinator who started to make it her life's mission to convince me that I had to make the decision about how I was going to spend the rest of my life. Looking back I'm guessing it wasn't really her life's mission, and even then I knew that she was only looking out for me because she liked me, but seriously I tried to avoid that woman in the halls at all costs. I felt like I broke her heart a little bit more every time I told her I still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.
I graduated very near the top of my class (class of like 90, so it's really not as great an accomplishment as it sounds) and started college majoring in... undecided. Soon (like, after 1 quarter) I got homesick and convinced my parents that it was the right thing for me to transfer closer to home. I started taking classes at our local community college until I could get accepted as a transfer student into our state's biggest institution of higher learning. I started there shortly after and I majored in... business. Why business? No idea. I think I had some sort of thought that it would be cool and fun to own some sort of cool and fun business and be my own boss. That is probably true, but it soon occurred to me that I really hated numbers and hated even more the idea of an 80 hour work week which is what I would likely be looking at if I owned my own business. And that's to say nothing of how in the world I would come up with the money to start a business. That coupled with my apparently serious indecisive nature (what kind of business would I start???) told me it was time to pursue something else.
Oh yeah, another thing that kind of got in the way of that plan, or any plans having to do with school and learning and succeeding in life was that I quickly figured out that living at home, with many of my friends nearby, and many of my friends living on campus, that I could pretty much party whenever I wanted. So.. I did. And I skipped some classes. A LOT of classes. And I got the first D of my life. Followed quickly by my first E. And then a few more of each. Academic Probation, Academic Improvement, and then a polite little letter asking me nicely to leave their fine institution until I could get my act together. So it was back to the community college for me until I could, well, get my act together.
After a million or so other bad decisions in my life I finally decided I had to graduate in something so I made it my life's mission to get a degree. In what? Education. Sure. Why not. So I transferred to my 4th school on what I lovingly refer to my "tour of state colleges" and buckled down and got lots of As and a few Bs and a nice shiny little degree in English Education.
Then I got a teaching job. And had decided by about day 3 that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. By day 11 I was sobbing begging my parents and my boyfriend (future ex-husband) to let me quit. My dad said, buck up and finish this. You have to at least finish the year, then you can change your mind if you want. For the next 9ish months that was my main goal in life: to finish out that year and get the heck out as fast as I could. Had I stuck with it it's entirely possible that it would've gotten easier for me, and I would by lying if I said that there were some rewarding moments during that year. But, then again, I could've hated every other second I spent teaching. Who knows. What I do know is, I got out of teaching as fast as I could.
And now here I am... 10 years, 1 failed marriage, 1 ruined credit report, and 3 kids later and I still don't know what in the H I want to do with my life. I've gone back to school to take more classes a few times since I graduated (I even went through a lengthy, somewhat humiliating process to get that one school to say, ok, we'll let you come back if you promise to get As this time). And I've thought about what I would do if I went back a million times. Something always gets in the way. Money. Kids. Time. Fear. Whatever. I love school, though. I am being totally honest when I say this: I would be a student for the rest of my life if I had that luxury. I would take every class I ever wanted to take, learn as much as I possibly could, become as "well-rounded" as they get, if it were something I could feasibly do. But I can't. I should go back. I will go back. But I need to make some sort of decision soon about what I will do once I'm back. What classes will I take? What degree will I pursue? What is it that I really want out of life??? Who knows if I ever figure this out. In the meantime, it's time I start the process of getting something done toward this end, though.
So today, on this 6th day the the quest to Live My Best Life, I filled out the FAFSA. I want to go back to school, but I will need help. I can barely pay bills every month so there's no way I can add tuition onto that, and one of my bills is already a pretty hefty student loan payment so that's not an option either. I'm almost sure that I won't get very far with the FAFSA by way of grants, but that is my first step, because grants and scholarships are what I need. I'm a single mom of 3 kids with a desire to better herself; there's got to be something out there that can help me! This was just a first step... I will need to start scouring the web looking for other sources of free money so expect to hear more about that soon.
It's 12:02 am so I've missed my deadline again. I started a little late tonight but I didn't think I was going to write so much. I was thinking, oh tonight it will be a nice, short little blog about starting the process to try and go back to school, but instead I got wrapped up in what has led me to this point. Again. :) Hopefully soon, dear readers (if there are any of you out there), I will have brought you all up to speed on every single aspect of my life so I can just post something that won't take you quite so long to read. For now though... good night!!