How to Go Back To School When You’ve Already Decided You’re a Failure
It took me a decade to finish my Bachelor’s degree. Going back to school held a unique PTSD for me and the idea that I could ever be good at anything stopped me often from trying. I originally went away to college the summer after high school graduation. I got pregnant with my first son and was forced to drop out and move home. When my son was 8 months old I returned to community college to finish what I had started. 10 months back into my education my son died unexpectedly. Unable to shower or form sentences I was forced to drop out yet again. I returned to school later that year devoted to finishing my program and making something of myself. Unfortunately my need to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol created a problem greater than my grief. My grades fell and instead of graduation I attended rehab.
Although my college experience may be unique, it is not uncommon for someone to start and stop college multiple times. Some of us go back and others decide it’s not in the cards. There is a place for all of us and college is only one route. This post is for the individuals who want to return to school but feel hopeless or doomed. Here are the steps to re-enrolling in college….
Step 1: Complain About School
Complain incessantly about your lack of options. You will reminisce on simpler times and berate your former self for not continuing with school and getting all your degrees straight out of high school. Soon you will begin naming friends who “did it the right way.” Accusingly you will pull up their Facebook posts as indisputable evidence of the happiness you could have had. You’re going to whine when more credentialed coworkers advance when you have worked much harder and been much more dedicated. Occasionally you will admit that if given the chance you could be a college badass and outperform any of the schmucks you were comparing yourself to.
Step 2: Get Hyped About School
You are going to fire yourself up. You’ll make grandiose plans and project yourself into the doctorate level of education. You will laugh at the ease of this journey, you’ll own your own company and retire at 40 why hadn’t you considered this before? You’re going to make hypothetical plans for a graduation cruise before you’ve even opened your laptop.
Step 3: Poke Holes in Your School Plans
This is probably the most time-consuming step and may last anywhere from 24 hours to a week. “I can’t because…” this will be your new mantra. You will repeat this phrase in its various forms when you are in your car, brushing your teeth, talking to the pizza guy who was asking about your day rhetorically. You will ask yourself questions like “how I will work?” “When will I study?” “What shows will I have to record?” You know, The important stuff. You will find a flaw in every almost answer and refuse to accept logical advice from outsiders who know and love you. They will seem pushy and ridiculous; don’t they understand how hopeless everything is?
Step 4: Cry
The tears will flow and if you are anything like me you will find yourself in a fetal burrito of comforter and self-doubt. Your partner will come home to find you like this. She will assume someone has died or you’ve been watching Gone with The Wind for the 50th time. If she/he is a sweet understanding mate like mine is she/he will kneel beside your bed of hopelessness and nod sympathetically as you recount the tragic mistakes that lead you to this point. You will tell your love you have given up and will no longer be re-enrolling in school. Because she knows you so well she will smile and tell you she supports your decision.
Step 5: Resign Yourself and Settle
That smart partner of yours has strategically triggered an overwhelming need to rebel and this cannot be undone. How dare she say this is okay? I am so much more than this! The indignancy comes in and inevitably you will be angry at the hopeless girl in the mirror. To spite her you will re-enroll, send transcripts and sign up for not one, but 4 classes over the course of three days. You will put on some pants, tie your bun up as high as your false confidence and make begin making the moves you’ve been dreading since you started step one.
Even though you are of course a terrible person and not as intelligent as you seem you will kill your first semester. Inexplicably you’ll find yourself staying up until midnight to register for the best classes next semester. You will struggle and doubt yourself, you’ll cry and threaten to quit. Somehow you will dry shampoo your hair, inhale enough caffeine to power a small village, and ace your exams bringing you to the moment of graduation. You are now Dorothy and you realize that you always had the power to finish college you just needed a push.
I don’t want to spoil the ending for you but, you’ll be hooked at this point, feeling unstoppable. You’ll seek another degree, repeat steps 1-5 and the happy ending? Well you’re in it now. You’re living it. When we do the things that scare us we are living and breathing that fairytale, slaying the dragons of apprehension and winning self love we never imagined we’d have.