Friday, June 07, 2019

Back to the Blackboard

I am 46 years old. I have been out of high school for 28 years. In 1991, fresh out of the hallowed halls of WHS I took one semester of college at NEO. I hated it. I enrolled in 18 hours. Whoever let me do that was a total moron. My parents didn't really support me. I mean, they didn't not support me, but they sure didn't cheer me on and tell me it would all be worth it. I think if someone wanted to analyze me from a psychological standpoint there's a whole shitload of baggage thumping around inside my head, but what that dreaded first semester taught me was: college is hard.

I was a stellar student in high school. I always got good grades and they came easy. No one warned me that college was going to be the actual opposite of high school. They didn't warn me that the instructors were going to have different opinions than I did AND that they could actually argue (some quite angrily) with me about them and there was no penalty for that. The work was harder and while I still got good grades, I worked a lot harder for them. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful in college as I was in high school and before long I was having migraines almost every day. I stopped going to class. I. Hated. It. And so I quit.

Fast forward to 2007. I had three kids - 10, 8, and 5. I had a husband who didn't want me to go to college. My advisor was a neat guy, but I met him once and he didn't really give me what I needed from an advisor. (Let's face it, some of us are more high-maintenance than others. Me being the most high maintenance you can get.) I took ALL online classes that fall. I took algebra online. Whoever let me do that was a moron. (Oh wait, it was me.) However, I managed to enroll in another semester that spring and took classes for my actual major, I wrote for the campus newspaper, I enjoyed my classes. However, at that time we only had dialup internet and online classes were only getting harder and harder to do with internet that slow. I couldn't just go to town every day and use someone else's - that kind of defeated my purpose of staying home to do school. And so I quit. Again.

Over the years I convinced myself I didn't need the degree. I worked at DHS as an aid/secretary. I worked for a mom-and-pop small business as a secretary. Both jobs were not degree-worthy. But then I was asked to apply for a job at the other junior college in the area. I applied. I interviewed. I felt really good about the interview. They said they'd call the next day. They didn't.

So I had all weekend to stew over it. I was in crisis. I don't like disappointing people. I had all but decided not to take it, no matter how much I had vibed with the people who did my interview (my future coworkers) and no matter how much I longed for a change. I just didn't want to let down my then current employers and leave them in a bad spot. But I also had some issues with them over my husband's employment there. Yet still I felt loyal. I wrestled with the decision for a whole weekend and had pretty much decided to not take it if it was offered to me. And I was also deep down 100% convinced they were not going to offer it to me.

Then Julie called on Monday, just as I was getting in my car to go to town. I leaned against the hood as she started with pleasantries and how they all thought I was so funny and "one of them," then she said, "Okay, so all that to say, we'd like to offer you the job!" I was speechless. I was quiet as she talked about pay and scheduling. And my heart sunk as I realized that I was going to have to turn her down, she was so nice and bubbly. But then she went on to say, "Oh and as an employee, you get free tuition if you choose to enroll, plus Sam will get his tuition free and you husband and any of your other kids!" I literally just kind of flopped down into the seat of my car and sat there stunned. I told her I needed to think about it and she was kind and gracious and said, "Absolutely! Can you let me know in a day or two?" I told her I'd let her know the next day, hung up and just sat there. Free college. F R E E  C O L L E G E.

I called my mom, sister, husband, daughter, son, basically everyone just shy of the Governor of Oklahoma. They all said basically the same thing: "You're stupid if you don't take it."

And so here I am, 10 months later, a very happy employee of Crowder College and also a full-time college student once more. I am currently taking two online classes this summer and will take 12 hours this fall. I am a Journalism/Public Relations major. I'm not sure I will ever do a thing with that degree because honestly, I'm very happy with my job as the secretary for ProjectNOW, (where it's true, I am definitely "one of them" and we are all just a little twisted and weird and that seems to be what people love most about us.) but in a few semesters I'll be able to say I have a degree. My sweet little Kady With a D is also enrolled as a full-time student at Crowder in the fall as well. We have math together. I offered to switch to a different class, but she said, "No, stay. That way I know I won't be the only one crying in class every day."

If I wanted to take more than 12 hours a semester I could finish by May 2020, but I don't want to, so I'm not gonna. It will work out to where I'll take one final science class in the fall of 2020 and graduate in December. I haven't decided if I'm going to walk yet. I doubt it. But we'll see. The more blood, sweat, and tears I put into this, the more I may decide I want to.

I had a proper meltdown on the first day of classes. But I feel like I got it out of my system and should be good from here on out. I still put a lot of pressure on myself to be nothing less than 100% perfect, so I feel my stress levels rising quite often. All self-inflicted. It's just who I am. But this time I have support. I have colleagues who are cheering. Friends who are cheering. Family who is cheering. And I'm kind of cheering for myself this time. That's a new one.

And now I have written my first post in six months all while waiting impatiently for Blackboard (the website where all of my college sits and awaits my attention) to stop being broken. IT sent an email assuring they were on it. I took yesterday evening off to just watch some TV ("Westworld" - go watch it. It's amazing.) and did zero homework. Today I haven't been able to do any. I told Kady I was being punished for being a slacker. She assured me the universe doesn't give two shits if I take an evening off to watch a weird robot cowboy show. Always the pragmatist, that Kady.

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