I started my college journey 11 years ago, straight out of high school. I was never what you might call a dedicated student. I’d much rather be working, hanging with friends or doing anything other than homework and studying. I did well in high school but was SO eager to grow up and be an adult that the thought of going to college was awful.
Like good parents, mine forced me to continue my education. They didn’t care where I went, they didn’t care if I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up and they certainly didn’t care how much I BEGGED and PLEADED with them to JUST LET ME TAKE A YEAR OFF!!!! I was going to college, end of story. With a somewhat sensible head on my shoulders I decided that instead of spending $80,000.00 a year without a plan I would take classes at a local Community College until I figured it out.
Well, fast forward to 11 years later with on-again/off-again schooling and plenty of (life) mistakes along the way; I decided last fall that it was time. Time to finish what I had started. Time to finally face my fears and doubts. Time to pick out my favorite outfit and swing on my backpack. It was time I finally went back and finish my college degree.
As I was gathering up my school books this morning, in a complete fog, it dawned on me how similar yet different college is for me now. Although there’s no college parties that I HAVE to go to or sororities to join there is still the homework, studying and sitting through class. That homework and studying that I used to avoid like the plague has now become an almost nightly task. One I don’t always look forward to but have actually come to enjoy accomplishing. I’ve been known to get up in the wee hours of the morning or stay up until the dark hours of the night to get through my work load, something that DEFINITELY did not happen 11 years go. I no longer hope just to pass but instead strive to achieve the A.
I used to sit back and listen to ‘older’ woman in class talk about juggling work, parenthood and school and wondered how the hell they did it. I could barely juggle my social life! At the beginning of this semester, I was talking with a younger student in one of my classes and we brushed the topic of me being a mom and working full-time, etc. With the most amazed expression on his face he said, “Wait, you work full-time, have a kid AND go to school?!?!” #mindblown I hadn’t even really thought about how I would juggle it all when I decided to go back, I just knew I needed to and would figure it out.
Going to school 11 years ago was meaningful but in different ways than they are now. I drove to work this morning, still dazed and REALLY needing my coffee, and realized that school is a lot like running for me. I push myself just as much in both for the same underlying reasons, to prove to myself and my daughter that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. That you can set dreams and goals for yourself and although you may not reach them the first, second or third time around, eventually you will get there if you work hard enough.
What should have taken a few years has taken me 11. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up but in those extra years I’ve gained the desire and the confidence to approach school like everything else in my life now; full force, all or nothing and with #noexcuses.