During the spring before I went back to college in 2009, I was working at a place where I wasn’t very happy. I had gotten out of a bad relationship, I had moved back in with my parents, I had been laid off (on good terms for those employers who have found my blog) from my job due to the auto industry tanking, and basically felt like I was back at square one. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. About halfway through the spring, a work colleague said something that later proved to be very profound to me. She said I had no focus. At the time, we were in a heated argument so when she said this, I didn’t think of it much beyond the fact that I wasn’t going to pay any attention to anything said by someone I didn’t particularly care for. I started thinking about it later, though, and realized – albeit grudgingly – that she was right. I had no focus. I had no plans, no goals. I was floating through my self-inflicted pity party of a life. I needed to change.
I applied to the University of Memphis.
Once I started on that roller coaster, I started to panic a little bit. I didn’t feel I was a good student. I hadn’t been to school in years. I was OLD – at least by college student standards. It didn’t help that my former romantic partner got wind of what I was doing and promptly said, “If you get a college degree, no guy will ever want to marry you.” I don’t remember what I actually told him, but I’m sure it probably resembled a verbal response representing this:
The words stung, though, as archaic as they sounded. What if I don’t make it? What if I joined the statistics of those who started college and never finished? The endless stream of what-ifs floated around in my head relentlessly that summer. The ugly words said only added to the mountain of self-doubt I had built. I almost backed out completely.
I did start college that fall. And I not only passed my classes, I excelled. I graduated with honors and successfully completed a master’s program afterwards.
I post this for a couple of reasons. First, it’s nice to remind myself of where I came from and I feel it’s important to always reflect on where we’ve been. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this post in the future when I need a confidence booster. Second, I cannot count how many friends, friends of friends, and women I don’t even know who are fighting that same battle of being in a place where they know they need to make a change, but are too fearful to take that first step. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to want to run back to familiarity. It’s okay to want to quit before you ever get started. Do it anyway. Pushing through the fear will be one of the bravest things you’ll do. And if a divorced 36-year-old single mom could do it, anyone can.