September 27, 2004

School's In

School starts tomorrow. Monday. Continuing on this quarter was an iffy proposition for a while, so I'm unreasonably excited, grateful, and relieved. Ruminations below, if you feel moved to press on.

When I was in grade school, there was nothing I hated more. Until 8th grade, when I moved to yet another new school, there was the virtual certainty that I wouldn't have anyone to spend lunch with. If I was lucky. Having company at lunch was generally trouble, almost certainly awkward. After 8th grade, it was still trouble, but at least I was having some fun.

Class was usually boring, so I tuned it out, having read or studied whatever it was at home already. Then one day I looked up and found out that I'd missed a couple things I'd needed to know. Then I discovered that they weren't just teaching subjects in school, they were teaching habits, and I was out that day. Metaphorically speaking.

When it was all over, there wasn't much in the way of a decent job available for someone like me. It took six years to fight my way into something better than a barely above minimum wage clock punch. Finally, I landed in the exciting field of web development, which paid better and didn't require time cards. But in the end, after several more years, not very exciting.

Now I've got the opportunity to study something I really love. I don't know if I'll be able to hold on for the whole ride to the B.A., in fact, it's touch and go that I'll even make it to the A.A. But every quarter is a few more months closer to a dream I've held onto with an irrational fixation that makes me want to cry with frustration sometimes. A dream of having a stepping stone to do work that I care about.

In grade school, it was always about the grades. I'd ask why am I learning this and when will I ever need to know it again? And my family said that it was about getting good grades so that people would know I was being raised right, or something like that. The unspoken assumption was that a girl wasn't going to need anything more than maybe vocational training, but don't embarass us in the meantime. Which seemed a piss poor motivation to go along with the program in a place where even the adults don't like you much.

At work, it's about the paycheck. And they were lousy at Subway, but at least I made people sandwiches. They could eat them. The benefit was clear, if not particularly grand. Plus, aside from the daily free sandwich, I was handing people food I often couldn't afford to buy. The internet industry pays more, but I spend a lot of time doing things that don't seem to obviously benefit anyone, beyond the money changing hands.

Maybe there's a lot of hubris in hoping I can do something that I feel makes a difference. Something where the goal captivates me, even if the day to day work isn't necessarily a thrill ride. And certainly, there are a lot of people in this world who would consider themselves lucky beyond words to have a job that threw a free sandwich into the bargain. But if I've learned anything in my life, it's that when the right opportunity comes your way, the thing you've been dreaming of every day even when you won't admit it, take it.

Say 'yes' and go gladly. Maybe it doesn't land you where you thought it would, but at least it isn't standing still.

Now when I go to school, the old questions don't bother me. I know why I'm there. I know there's a bigger goal to it than a score, or the money I might earn someday. It just makes everything in my life, and I mean everything, seem better.

Tomorrow morning, I get another day to move closer to that dream. Another day closer to getting a chance to do what I ache to do. And all I can say is 'thank you.'

Posted by natasha at September 27, 2004 12:04 AM | Random Mumblings | Technorati links |

Tonight's a school night. Why are you still up?
Go To Bed.

Posted by: David Aquarius at September 27, 2004 12:08 AM

This was a great post, Natasha. It tells a wonderful story of a person who has had many obstacles, some blatantly unfair, thrown at her and yet still has found a way to endure and step forward.

I hope you stick with the schooling to come out on the other side with that degree because I think it is something you can be successful at. Success, to me, does not equal money or the approval of others, although those things might come anyway. It does equal making a difference and bringing a sense of purpose to yourself, and I believe you are headed down that path.

Degree or no degree, you have within you gifts to accomplish things that matter. That is obvious to anyone who reads what you put on these web pages. Still, hang in there! I have a funny feeling you have many readers pulling for you, myself among them, who will share the happiness of your true successes as you reach them and share them with US in this forum.

Posted by: Scott at September 27, 2004 04:42 AM

Great news! I know you were iffy on following through with attending this year, so I'm glad you're back to pursuing your future.

Posted by: palamedes at September 27, 2004 10:08 AM

"Then I discovered that they weren't just teaching subjects in school, they were teaching habits, and I was out that day."

-well put. My analogy was that someone passed out pieces to the life puzzle, but I had missed out somehow. Ah, to have those years back and do it all right the first time.

Good for you, for sticking it out! I know whereof you speak.

Posted by: Ray at September 27, 2004 04:04 PM

Thanks, all. You have no idea how much I appreciate the encouragement.

On a funny note, the euphoria of last night was slightly dented when I paid the $600+ textbook bill today, which approaches my quarterly tuition costs. But fortunately, two of the sets of books will be useful for the full series of three classes they're used for over the coming academic year (German and organic chemistry), and the last one will take care of the two final math classes needed for a transfer degree. If (knock on wood) I stay in for the year, I won't have to buy any more textbooks except a couple of english texts for a last couple required classes.

On a very positive note, I registered six people to vote while they were captively standing in line at the bookstore, and finally got a registration form to my apartment manager. All in all, a good day.

Posted by: natasha at September 27, 2004 05:50 PM

Good on you!
Don't let them think that they can duck out on this election.
Thank you for the work you do here, but keep the candle burning for school, your energy is finite.

Brings me back to my college days long time ago. I majored in the Wheel with a minor in Fire.

Posted by: David Aquarius at September 28, 2004 09:45 AM