There is something to be said about higher learning. Though I can’t speak on this subject personally, I long to be able to.
I wasn’t able to go to college, but if I had I would have attempted to get a masters in American History with special studies in Native American History & Culture. I find the deep and rich cultural heritage of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes fascinating, inspiring. Their roots, unlike my own, are steeped in tradition. They have a value of the world around them that is rare and beautiful.
There is something to be said about having a high school diploma/GED. I don’t have any stories for you here either, as I never got my high school diploma or a GED. I’m a drop out.
At what was my second senior year in high school I was part of a gifted/alternative high school program located on our university campus. I had already had several pieces of published writing thanks to the most passionate teachers, as well three paintings that had been on display at the university and then at a local gallery. I had an A in chemistry, English Lit, and had only 2 elective credits left to earn before I would graduate….when I had to drop out to care for my son, who was a tiny and loving one year old. Going to school full time and working part time at $4.10 an hour through a grant was not enough to meet his needs, and I didn’t want to be part of the ‘welfare state of mind’ that was plaguing my growing community. So, I quit school with a heavy heart and got a job, working 60 hours a week when I could to make ends meet. Having to ‘grow up’ at light speed was just life…because my life was no longer my own.
Time moves on with or without us…
Within a few years I met my husband. We married and started our family and the months turned into years. Our oldest children are attending college, and one will (hopefully) make the decision to go this fall. My middle child Jay uses my not graduating from high school as a reason/excuse that perhaps he should not put forth any effort, and drop out. It’s a very personal matter. I find it more of a slap in the face than anything. Not because he says it, but because I know what he will be missing out on. (?) Though I’m aware he could get his GED, or become a successful human being without it, I want to live through him. I want to watch him walk down the isle, collect his diploma, and get his degree in physics, basket weaving…anything. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that I tried to get my GED. I wanted to say to my kids that it was never too late to achieve your goals. I wanted to show them that if you put the effort in to what your dreams are made of that they can become your reality. Alas, I did swimmingly on everything but the math….which I failed by one or two points, every time. And I took that test many times. I was crushed.
*There are so many things we would have done differently in our lives isn’t there?*
If I could do this all over again, I wouldn’t.
The child I had as a teenager is what or rather WHO saved me from overdosing in an alley somewhere. He made me buck up and face life head on, in spite of my fears and struggles, and become a mother in every sense of the word. Do I worry as a result of my lack of formal education? Yes. My husband is the one who provides financially for us. I haven’t had a job in almost 14 years. (They asked where I attended high school rather then where I graduated from so I didn’t have to lie…I’m sure they’ve fixed that by now.) What happens if I suddenly have to become the one to provide? Or if Jay decided to stick to his guns and drop out, how will I change his opinions on this when I’m talking in two different directions?
Writing this post has required a lot of self-exploration, and life-long friends helping me to find perspective. This next part, is in part, because of them…
There was a time I longed more than I can explain to have a high school diploma. Hearing people complain about their homework, internships, graduate degree progress or the lack there of would cause a twinge of pain somewhere inside me. How fortunate they are, I would want to say. It brings up a desire to tell them about myself and say “You are so blessed to able to go to college. Don’t waste it complaining! Make the most of yourself. Go Forth in Knowledge.”
Now, I GET it.
There is far more in my life that I have without a degree than many people have with a lifetime of higher learning. My six degrees of separation are more like two, because I connect on a level with others that those with only a formal education can’t. I have all these beautiful children, a family that is complete because I’m a part of the equation. I am lacking in nothing.
Much like Benjamin Franklin, I have worn/wear many hats…often many in one day. I am a mother, wife, friend/confidante. I make the very best gumbo you will ever taste. I have memorized all the mother goose nursery rhymes I could find and I can hook a trout with the best of them. I am a writer/artist and I have lived. I have lived a life at times that was a struggle to want to be a part of. These struggles have brought me into the lives of people from all walks – who I have given a hand to and held while they cried, people who I cherish, who have helped me grow into the woman I am…compassionate, loyal, accepting. My interpretation of achievement is no longer measured by my desire for student loan debt but rather by the amount of change I make in the lives and hearts of those I love.
So what will I say to my child when he or she talks to me about dropping out now? I don’t know, but I’ve had a wonderful education and I’m sure I’ll have the answer.