Woke up this morning with a lot (of homework) on my mind. So, after I mentally chronicled all I had to do, I decided that what I needed was a break (I know….I did say I just woke up). You’re my ‘break’; so behave and allow me this time!
School. Yesterday I had quite the lively and insightful discussion with a young lady about school; someone that before yesterday, I had seen in passing at my hair salon, but never spoke with. Yesterday, we were seated next to each other and something one of us said to our stylist triggered a conversation that burgeoned between us. This young lady is attending Columbia University, working on her MSW (Master’s degree in Social Work). She is nearing the end of the second rung on my ladder. We had quite the talk!
But, this conversation is not about her (I have not gotten her permission to disclose); this conversation is about my experiences with school (I signed the disclosure waiver). As I navigate the terrain of the American educational system, I cannot help but to be quite daunted at all that there is. Daily I shake my head to, (1) clear out the cobwebs and, (2) marvel at the amount of work it takes to just get through school. And, I am definitely not addressing the school work! No, I am speaking about the leg-work; the mental agility and savvy it necessitates to stay abreast of the options, the opportunities and the pitfalls!
So on a fairly regular basis I remind myself that this is more than likely one of the advantages of heading off to college as you step out of high school – at that age, not only is one’s mind young and moist, but theoretically, one’s body is equally as nimble – able to jump through those hoops! Wow. Now, even as I say (and stand behind) that, I also acknowledge that for all that the young young may trump me on in terms of learning continuity and (so-called superior) energy, they cannot begin to even stand next to me at the starting line with regard to focus, dedication, ambition and that invaluable thing called ‘life lessons’ and experience! I get that; but, let’s address this:
It’s hard. Indeed. I tell people (like I shared with the young lady yesterday) that I end most of my days in tears. Yes. Carrying the load (literally and figuratively) of work and school sometimes, oftentimes, takes more than I have (although I seem to come up with what it takes). At the end of many days, dragging my ass through the door exhausted, hungry and depleted, knowing that there still are a few more hours to go – and not of fun, but homework/studying – quite frankly damn near floors me! Being required to continue to get it up late into the night, night after night, is so hard (and not in the ever-fantastic male sense)!
This journey through school is, no pun intended, quite the ‘education’. Not only am I learning both the things I will need and those I most decidedly won’t; but, as I tiptoe my way through it, I am discovering invaluable lessons about life – mine and of those around me. Daily I am realizing that as I shed tears, I am invariably also shedding insecurities, indecision, immaturity and impatience. I am being taught, on the backside of every book and lecture, what it means to depend solely on myself. Let me explain. Even as there are some wonderful and supportive people in my life cheering me on my way, at the end of the day, both they and I know that for this, it is truly my way. The path of learning is one of those endeavors that one takes on truly, completely and (initially) solely for oneself.
So I know that in one million years as I cross the stage(s), I will look out into the audience – fuck; who am I kidding – I will hear the cheers that embody the pride and support from those that love me and whom I adore back. I know that; and I will not let any one of them down. In the meantime, I am sharing this in the hope that anyone who is in or thinking about continuing/furthering their academic career, knows what can be the reality of same. You see, so often, with many things, what is highlighted, what is addressed, is the glorified, romanticized version; the diatribe that is put out there in an effort to (falsely) seduce and encourage. And, while for many things some of those renditions can indeed be accurate, what is also accurate is that in most realities, there is a flip side. The reason this is important is to in no way discourage; indeed the opposite. It is important that one is told that the negative they may be feeling or experiencing in any given situation can be not only normal, but expected. The ugly side of things should equally be acknowledged; to do any less would be to perpetuate a falsehood and more importantly, to set others up for failure. Knowing that some situations can be tough, grueling or unpleasant allows for those feelings to okay; while one pushes on.
School is tough; and I cry… a lot. It is one of the most rewarding endeavors I have taken on in my adult life and I am constantly amazed at the student I didn’t know lived in me. Carrying this load is also one of the loneliest and completely isolating periods in my life to date. My decision to not only attend college, but to excel at college has plummeted me into an existence of singular, targeted focus that allows for little else; maybe erroneously leading me to believe that anything or anyone outside of my academic or professional goals is a distraction I can ill-afford. But at the same time, most days when I come home dragging and depleted, allllllllllllllllllllllllllll I wish for is someone to “carry my books” (way too much Lifetime tv).
Listen, all I am saying is that even with the yucky sides to this, with all the tears that it drags out of me and all the fun I think I may be missing, every morning that I get up way too fucking early, I still manage to smile, dust the wreckage of the past evening off, pat myself on the back and keep on going. I get excited about the journey and I allow myself the truth of how I am feeling and how much it costs (literally and figuratively). I stay away from deluding myself; but I keep on encouraging myself. I talk to others doing it (like my daughter and that other young lady), or who have already done it and I gather strength and determination from both. I curse, cry, scream, bitch and complain. And, I laugh, rejoice, celebrate, get excited and keep on going! I never ever get discouraged about the length of time I will be spending to reach my goal, cause guess what? I will be spending the time anyway J