It’s getting close to the end for many students, and I can’t help but daydream about my own impending graduation. Albeit mine is still nearly a year away, I am already so excited to be a college graduate. I never had senior portraits done for myself when I was a high school graduate. We couldn’t really afford it, and I didn’t really care anyway. I figured “everyone graduates high school; what’s the big deal?” And I just wanted out of that god-forsaken place! (Pffft…if I had only known that those were the easy years!)
This time, though, I will have my picture taken. I’m going to hand out invitations! I will celebrate this achievement with every cheesy, clichéd, cornball tradition out there, because man, I am proud of myself.
When I dropped out of college a whopping 15 years ago (ouch!), I couldn’t care less about being an educated, productive member of society. I wanted nothing more or less than a rock and roll life in the fast lane, and boy, was I headed nowhere fast. Years after dropping out and hastily abandoning almost an entire semester-worth of classes, I attempted to return to school…twice. It was really hard both times. I still wasn’t ready! As they say, “it takes what it takes”. It wasn’t until I got clean and sober, changed everything about my life, and went back to school a fourth time that something finally clicked and I really, truly wanted it.
Two babies in two years and a lot of prayers later, and I will be a senior this fall.
I stopped making excuses; not on purpose, but just as a side effect of living well. Also, I figured out what I wanted to do! And that helped tremendously. And I made a plan and stuck to it, NO MATTER WHAT. The principles I learned in my recovery program were so universal, I was able to apply them to every aspect of my life, and this also helped me meet my goals and keep moving forward. When I realized that I wanted to help people in a counseling setting, and I visualized myself doing that, everything else just kind of fell into place.
I remember being so afraid to take that first step. “What if it’s too expensive? What if I’m not smart enough? What if I drop out AGAIN? What if I can’t even get in because I’ve flunked out too many times? What if financial aid doesn’t cover it?”
One day, my counselor said to me, “Have you applied for school yet?” When I replied that I had not, she said “Well, what are you waiting for?” I gave her my 5 thousand reservations. To each protest, she said “So what? So what if that happens? Then it happens, and you take the next right step.” So the next day I did. When I wrapped my head around the fact that I didn’t have to figure it all out at once, I didn’t have to know everything to take the first step — I just had to do that one thing — it instantly became less overwhelming.
In a year, I will have a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, and my plan is to start on my Masters at that point. School isn’t even a chore anymore. It’s something that I GET to do.
And now, I also get to help others celebrate their hard work and success: