Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Way It Should've Been

Hello followers! I know it's been a while, but I have a good excuse, I'm back in college!

Waaayyy back when I went to college the first time, George Bush Sr. was elected President, Tom Selleck was ending his stint in "Magnum PI" after 8 years, the Exxon Valdez had spilled oil (I don't think that's totally taken care of yet), Sandra become the first woman elected to the supreme court, and just to prove that things never change, we were still reeling from the stock market crash in October of 1987 and we were suffering a huge drought and heat waves. Back then, Michael Jackson had three hits in the top 20, Guns-N-Roses sang, "Sweet Child O'Mine" and  UB40 encouraged us to drink "Red, Red Wine," while Def Leppard told us, "Love Bites," George Michael wasn't scary and Whitney Houston wasn't on drugs. Ahhh, those were the days. Those were the days that I decided to break free from my high school cliques and attend college 5 1/2 hours away from my home town.

What was I thinking?

I had dreams of grandeur. I wasn't going to follow all my friends to in-state colleges! No, I was going to be somebody. In high school, I had tons of friends. I got along with most everyone in my class of 230-some. But I didn't want those ties. I was going to be a famous artist.

And then reality hit. I didn't know ANYONE. No one knew me. I wasn't as outgoing as I had thought without the courage in numbers I had had. I didn't join clubs, I didn't party (I didn't know my way around the town), I hardly had the nerve to go eat in the cafeteria. I wasn't prepared. I wasn't ready for the drastic change in study habits. Things that were easy to me had become I struggle. I lost weight, I became depressed, I missed my mommy. I had never felt so alone, sad, and most importantly, small. My grades suffered. I became lost in the abyss of who I thought I was and who I actually was...a small fish in a small pond. A far cry from a town where everyone knew who you were, what you were like and what you were going to do before you did it. You know how everyone seems to have life-long college friends? Not me. To this day, I don't think I could name more than five alum.

Being a parent myself now, I can about image how difficult those phone calls home were for my mom to listen to. My tears, my pleas and for her to not just want to drive up there and wrap her arms around me. But she didn't. She urged me to keep going, try to make friends, get out there. I kept going. But I wasn't a part of college life, and it's one of my biggest regrets.

But unlike most people, I have a second chance. I'm back in college chasing the dream...a different dream, but THE dream for me. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous the first day of class. But I have something now that I didn't then, experience. I'm older. What you think of me isn't as earth shattering as it once was.

The experience to participate in class and not just be a warm body filling a seat. I know what an asset it is to have the teacher remember a good way. Experience knowing that the teacher actually must find some relief in getting feedback and not just dull stares and yawns. Experience knowing the class will be way more interesting if SOMEONE breaks the ice, and if that's me so be it. You know what? The thing is, if you do contribute, not only do the teachers remember you, but so do your classmates.

I now sit down at a table in the lounge, and pretty soon I have four other people with me. There are people pulling chairs from other tables to sit at the one I'm at. Not that it's all about me, but it seems people like groups. People stop me in the hall to talk. Experience knowing that if you're not shy in class, you're a magnet because others know you're not afraid to talk and they're drawn to someone they know they can have a conversation with.

I haven't mentioned my age specifically aloud. I wonder if they know how old I am? They know I'm married with children, but there are quite a few who fall into that category, even though they are 10-20 years younger than me...some with children quite a bit older than mine. But we can commiserate on how tough it is to juggle kids, work, classes and homework.

We had to sign up for a group class project. Group A and Group B. We were told to write our names on the whiteboard under each group. Our choice. Is it coincidence that I was the first one up there to sign up under Group B and group A had 6 less people in it? (If it is, just let me believe).

One odd thing that's been true for me most of my life, the busier I am, the more organized and happy I become. Weird, right? Two of my days consist of classes until 5:15, straight to daycare to pick up the boys, home to fix and clean up supper, housework, baths and bedtime. Then peace...and homework. On the two days that I'm done early with classes, I bring an extra set of clothes so I can drive to where Shawn is working and help him, then ditto with the rest of my schedule. Add baseball in on Monday and Thursday nights. I'm waiting for the, "No time to eat," part to kick in so I can drop a few pounds.

I average 5.5 hours of sleep a night. Sure I get crabby, who wouldn't? Studying is a challenge with the noise level in our house. If I have to start before the kids are in bed, I lay in my bedroom and read. The other night, while I was reading biology, Kaiden came in and flopped down beside me, opened his own book, and started reading. (It was sweet, but he reads in a little whisper). Good influence on my kids? I think so.

Wanna know what I'm excited about this week? I get to observe a surgery and I get to job shadow at a local clinic. I seriously haven't been this happy in a LONG time. Yeah, it's the first week, and things may change. I try not to think of the financial implication of living on one salary, but it's nice to have something on my mind besides bills for a change.

Experience also means I have contacts...lots of them. I was able to convince the printer I'm doing graphic design work for, to offer students a 15% discount on printing and copies. My job shadowing "in" was from a Vet I designed business cards for. I think I even have my internship secured from postcards I did for PAAWS who specialize in providing free spay and neutering services for people who can't afford it and strays. CAN WE SAY AWESOME?!

But you know what the absolute best thing has been so far? I overheard my oldest son tell my neighbor (when neighbor asked a question of him that he couldn't answer) that he should ask his mommy, because, "She's really smart."

No regrets.


  1. That is so awesome! A lot of kids aren't ready for college when they go. It is great that you got a second chance.

  2. Rock on! Enjoy some of that red wine, it will help you study! There's nothing more inspiring than someone going after what they want out of life. AND setting a great example for your kids? BONUS!

  3. I love this post!!
    I love it because you basically told my story.
    I recently received my BS and am now in graduate school for my counseling license. I hear you on the classroom dynamics!! I am SO much more a student today than I ever could have.

    Regrets? Yes, I have kicked myself all over the United States of America for blowing a college educational opportunity - fully paid by parents - when I was in my early 20's


    Life experience!! A resounding YES!! I truly believe that my effectiveness as a therapist will be as a result of 90 % life experience and 10% classroom learning. .

    Are you at MSU or NDSU?
    MSU is where I attended as a twenty-something and only managed to learn which bar had the best drink specials - nothing more.
    Man a chic could drink cheap back in the 80's in Fargo-Moorhead.

    Congratulations - a TREMENDOUS role model for your chldren!! Their chance for pursuing a college education has been increased exponentially because of your example. Looking forward to hearing updates!

  4. Thanks guys, re-reading this post it seemed kind of self-serving, but it's just that I'm so exciting to interact with ADULTS with similar interests.

    @Dawn - I attended MSU the first time. Now I'm at Minnesota School of Business (I know, sounds weird, but they have a learning clinic on campus there.)

    I didn't enjoy MSU until my last 2 years, where I actually got a chance to take classes in my field. Seems like there is a lot of fluff in getting a degree these days unless you go to a technical college.

    Thank you all for the support!

  5. Inspiring.

    That's all. Just plain inspiring.

    Thank you!

    -Joe at Mostly Harmless Drivel