I made the decision to enroll in college last year. Being a student was not on my radar. To be honest, I felt above it. I was a published author, after all. Why on earth did I need a degree? That was my argument when it was suggested that I consider attending school. Though I’d taken college courses in the past, I prefer to refrain from saying “going back to school” because no time before had I gone to school for the purpose of seeking a degree. I only went because that’s what you do after high school, right? I lasted a semester back then. I enrolled again a couple of years later after an honorable discharge from the Air Force. It was part of my employment obligation as a Corrections Officer for the Sheriff’s Dept.
Years and a career change later, I was in school again. That time was for esthetics (skin care) at a local community college. While attending Trident Technical College for esthetics, I decided to take a business class and brush up on Spanish. Those two classes piqued an interest, but that was it. I pushed the thought of further education toward the exterior of my psyche. Then 2015 rolled around.
When I had first begun researching Austin Community College (ACC), I wasn’t sure which program moved me most. Journalism rung a bell, then creative writing, but it was psychology that pumped the flow of blood through my veins. The intrigue of mind work was undeniable, so I pursued it. I enrolled in two classes that summer, and surprisingly, that six-week session ended with two As on my transcript. I was amazed because one of the main reasons why I ran from school for so long was because my track record was unsatisfactory in the test and application department. Was it true that I had gone from Cs, Ds, and Fs to As? Yes!
I wanted more; my ego needed more.
And due to that need for further validation of my improved mental processing, four classes were added to my plate for the fall semester. Then the pain came knocking on my door.
Algebra was my nemesis. It challenged me to my core; it confirmed every doubt I had previously about my capabilities. The frustration with my inability to grasp it caused me to stop going to class to the point I was eventually dropped. I felt like a failure. It reaffirmed the reasons why I refused to go to school all of those years. But I couldn’t quit. I had goals that included several more classes, semesters, and years in school.
I’d heard “Dr. Blues” whispered into my subconscious one afternoon in my philosophy class, so yeah, stopping after one failure was not an option.
Simply readjust, change my mindset, and persevere were the better options. And that’s just what I did. My last semester at ACC concluded with four As and one B. Those grades were what I needed to push through two summer classes. I was all the more motivated to begin the fall at St. Edward’s University. I went from only wanting to pursue an AA degree and “see what happens next” to enrolling in a four-year university to researching doctoral programs.
Now that I’m in the next stage of the game, I am feeling the stress. There are tons of questions running through my head: Am I doing the right thing? Do I still want to pursue a BA then a Ph.D.? What if I just give up psychology and pursue a different major? Writing, maybe? Should I just quit altogether? You see, I am doubting myself, my abilities, my capacity to retain the information taught. Here I am a psychology major with a jacked up mindset. How can that be?
One realization I have come to is that since beginning school over a year ago, I start out at the bottom and progress up the grade scale as the semester goes along. (Well, not in writing/English Comp classes; those are consistent As.) It’s the testing processes that unnerve me. Usually all of my test scores at the beginning of the semester are in the low C range, but by the end, I see As. It reminds me of the saying,
“Small beginnings have big endings.”
But I have to get to the end, you know? That’s something I must keep in mind because second-guessing myself on exams and entertaining doubt consistently is self-destructive. It’s almost as if I am mentally manipulating myself to give up which is not at all what I want. It was years ago that I released the mentality that I am not a finisher. I do complete what I start. I don’t give up.
Giving up is not an option so I shouldn’t even entertain the idea. It’s like people who go into marriage with the thought of “if this doesn’t work out, there’s always divorce” as an option. I’ve made it this far. Why give up here? Why give up now? Throwing in the towel now will continue the cycle of unacceptable traits and characteristics that I have deleted from my resume. The only way to break patterns is to make a change and not look back. So no matter how bad I make myself feel from my efforts, I will not stop. I will keep going. After all, a 3.6 GPA is far from being a failure. In the words of Mcfadden and Whitehead in the song ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’:
“There’s been so many things
That’s held us down
But now it looks like
Things are finally comin’ around”
Things are turning around. But I know it has to start in my mind. I have to affirm myself, encourage myself. I cannot be the one responsible for tearing myself down–there are too many other people in this world who do that. Even if I don’t do so well on an exam, as long as I do my best, I know I can only improve from there. The exit is to the left and I’m going right; I’m choosing to stay on course. God and me, we’ve got this!
Blues Note: Don’t give up when it’s hard. That’s when you need to push harder and stay in the game. It’s the challenge that creates a victor in you. You choose whether you succeed or fail.