After all my wigging out about going back to school, all of a sudden next Tuesday is the final exam and the last class meeting of the quarter. It seems like the weeks have just flown by, and makes me reflect on the truth of what many of you said when I was hemming and hawing over starting this in the first place: the time is going to pass either way.

So here I am a few months later, five credits further down the road than I would have been if I’d decided to wait. Five credits is a very small step, but still.

I suppose I could still flunk the shit out of that last test, but even if I do I’ll have a passing grade. You guys, I have done really well in this class, and as far as therapy goes tuition probably costs more than a beard-stroking talk therapist but whatever, I am crushing those old and icky feelings of school-related failure, one A at a time.

Of course it remains to be seen if my newfound academic excellence can translate to something other than Sociology 101 and a homework load that was pretty much limited to two exams and three “personal reflection” essays. Ahem.

I registered for spring quarter yesterday and I’m on the waiting list for a nutrition class (yay!), a math class (boo!), and if neither of those work out I’ll be hooking up with Intercultural Communication (AKA, The Humanities Credit You Take When the Only Other Evening Class Option is Public Fucking Speaking Which Oh My God No I Would Rather Die in a Fire).

It feels a bit like chipping at some enormous mountain with a teeny tiny chisel, but—say it with me—the time will pass either way. Where do I want to be a couple years from now: standing in front of the same overwhelming hill, or starting to see the shape of what’s underneath?

This feels right, and good, and best of all, I’m enjoying the process. Even the beshitted studying.


PS: in housekeeping news, I just started a weekly column with The Stir over at CafeMom. I hope you come by and visit!


44 Responses to “Making the grade”

  1. Kathryn on March 19th, 2010 9:17 am

    You are an inspiration to so many, including me. Keep it up! Here in the Deep South, so many woman are just concerned about appearances and what cute smocked, monogrammed outfits their kids are wearing. It’s so refreshing to read your posts and be reminded about what really matters. Thanks!

  2. Kate @ Life As I Live It on March 19th, 2010 9:22 am

    I took a Nutrition class at BCC a few years back and LOVED it. In fact, I found my notes from the class just the other day and spent quite a while re-reading them. Interesting stuff. I hope you get into the class. You’ll love it.

    Congrats on finishing your first class! Yes, time is passing and you’re making the most of it. :)

  3. Pete on March 19th, 2010 9:23 am

    You might look into Toast Masters for that public speaking thing.

  4. Lisa V on March 19th, 2010 9:31 am

    It took me 17 years to graduate with my B.A. I raised 4 kids, worked and took one or two classes here and there. It was a HUGE feeling of pride to get that degree, even if the chipping away method took forever. Do it!

  5. Erin on March 19th, 2010 9:39 am

    Just remember, you are now on the path instead of looking at the starting line wondering if you should take the first step. You are in it (to win it). Congrats!

  6. Amy on March 19th, 2010 9:49 am

    You guys must have trimesters. I’m only at mid-terms!

  7. honeybecke on March 19th, 2010 9:57 am

    “the time will pass either way”
    Thanks, I really needed to hear (read) that. It puts hard, unappealing tasks that need to be done into a simple perspective. As you said, might as well be closer to your goal when the time does pass.

  8. victoria on March 19th, 2010 10:13 am

    I HEART YOU! You rock. Therapy is great and all, but there’s no therapy like taking on a challenge.

    I am still trying to wrap my head around how you do so much in a day,though.

  9. AndrewENZ on March 19th, 2010 10:20 am

    You should do the Public Speaking Class. Nothing is quite as essential I find.

  10. Rachel on March 19th, 2010 10:22 am

    I started out the same way. Three units of history because it was offered at the local high school. English 01A hybrid and a music class. Then another locally-offered history class and Nutrition 10 (one of my favorites so far). And so on. I’m on something like my seventh semester now, taking units 35-40, having a grand time and so, so glad I’m doing this. I could identify with every word of this post (except for the “boo” about the math class, because seriously I love math even more than chocolate). Here’s to laying old ghosts!

    (Also, like Amy, we’re only at midterms here, with nine weeks of the semester yet to go.)

  11. Bridget on March 19th, 2010 10:28 am

    I don’t mean to sound patronizing when I say that, damn, I’m proud of you! I love that you’ve gained this confidence in yet another part of life. I can’t wait until you have to take a math class and realize that that isn’t as hard as you were expecting either. Then maybe even you’ll have to admit how awesome you are!

  12. Jen_Ann_W on March 19th, 2010 11:03 am

    Let me first say YAY YOU! Do you have any idea how inspiring and motivating it is to hear about you knocking down your goals one after another? It’s so encouraging to know that life doesn’t end when we become adults – that we can keep on learning new things and pushing our limits. That’s been a hard thing for me to grasp, that I’m not stuck in the job/body/life I’m in now. It’s awesome to hear about you breaking out of your comfort zone.

    And now to encourage YOU a little bit, if I can. I know you’re petrified of the public speaking class, and maybe a class like this one isn’t the right place for you to try breaking past your anxiety. But I was in your shoes once, shaking and sweating at the thought of being in front of people, and now I LOVE speaking and teaching. I found my comfort with it through trial and error, finding a subject I’m passionate about and starting off with groups of my co-workers and friends that I felt more confident with. I wonder if there is some sort of online coaching seminar, or a class at the library, or some other source that you might be more comfortable with? My point is, I think you have the potential to be an awesome, engaging speaker, whether at a blogging conference or as a nutrition coach/teacher. It might not be on your plate right now, but it’s just something to ponder.

    And thanks again for sharing your accomplishments!

  13. Kate on March 19th, 2010 11:04 am

    I’m with Andrew. If you can’t get into the classes you’re on the waiting list for, you should take public speaking. The other class seems like it’s likely BS, but more than that, public speaking is actually an essential and extremely useful skill that has a ton of applicability, even outside of actual public speaking. If you don’t want to do it because you don’t think you need it or because it sounds embarrassing and scary, or something along those lines, that’s a pretty good sign that it would actually be useful to you. If it’s because you think you’ve got public speaking down, then I retract this comment :).

  14. Kate on March 19th, 2010 11:14 am

    So that my comment actually makes sense: I meant to take out “because you don’t think you need it”.

  15. parodie on March 19th, 2010 11:48 am

    Yay! That’s awesome news. Congratulations!! You are amazing.

  16. Carolyn J. on March 19th, 2010 12:10 pm

    I am doing the same thing right now – taking open registration courses at my local uni in hopes of improving my resume. I am trying not to look at the hill (of time and money).

  17. Christine on March 19th, 2010 1:04 pm

    It’s so great that you’re doing this! Even if I selfishly missed your more frequent posting. I mean, how am I ever going to adequately procrastinate without enough blog stuff to read.

  18. Danell on March 19th, 2010 1:09 pm

    So…perhaps you didn’t mean it literally when you said you would rather die in a fire than take a public speaking course, but I DO. Seriously- TO A CRISP. I actually chose my undergrad degree based on which degrees did NOT require public speaking.
    And I managed to get thru undergrad and graduate school without “learning” how to speak publicly. And I can do my job just fine now, too, thankyouverymuch.

  19. Alice on March 19th, 2010 1:42 pm

    i’m so impressed. i am, um, “unmotivated” to go back to school. i left college pretty vowing to never write another paper again. so far, so good!

  20. crisitunity on March 19th, 2010 2:08 pm

    I am SO GLAD for you. Great job!

  21. Becky Mochaface on March 19th, 2010 3:02 pm

    So proud for you! Keep chipping away at that mountain!

  22. Julie @ The Mom Slant on March 19th, 2010 7:54 pm

    When I put myself through grad school while working full time, it did wonders for my academic self-esteem. I was smart again!

    I hope your studies give you the same infusion of confidence.

  23. Marolyn on March 20th, 2010 5:59 am

    See.. times does fly.. wether or not your having fun. :o) I think it’s Awesome that you have gone back and I am starting my trek back up that hill in the fall right beside my 54 yr old hubby. It is NEVER too late. When I took public speaking 18 years ago I was equally as terrified until A-I realized every other student in the class was JUST as scared as I was, and B- I found if I was the first or close to it when it came time to give my speech I could relax the rest of the class and not sit there with my tummy in knots!
    You are truely inspirational in every facet of your life! I sent your bodies in motivation link to my sister ust the other day. I keep telling her she CAN DO it too!

  24. rj on March 20th, 2010 6:33 am

    I chipped away 5 credits at a time and I GRADUATED from UW that way! Now I’m in law school. It IS possible and the credits add up faster than you would ever imagine. Soon we’ll see pics of you in cap and gown. Good luck!

  25. Rachel on March 20th, 2010 6:48 am

    Congrats & great job! I, too am chipping away at finally getting a degree (15 years later than I should have.) I think I appreciate learning more now than I did at 18. Regarding the dreaded public speaking course, see if your school offers online classes. Mine does and for the speech class, you use a web cam and send in your speeches. Credits earned and no true public speaking required.

  26. lo on March 20th, 2010 7:39 am

    One of the few things I’m really good at is explaining things to someone. Another is math. You are welcome to take advantage, as I could use some academic confidence myself. Just an offer :)

    So happy for you, keep rockin!

  27. Kami on March 20th, 2010 8:16 am

    5 credits is more than no credits. Between school & the marathons, you should feel like Superwoman. Really. I am in awe.

  28. Anonymous on March 20th, 2010 11:30 am

    I’m not a regular reader; can someone fill me in? What degree/major/new career(?) are you working towards? I love stories like this. :) I am also considering returning to grad school next year at the ripe age of 36. Thanks for the inspiration!

  29. Bachelor Girl on March 20th, 2010 7:00 pm

    Somebody’s kicking ass and taking names lately, and it’s YOU!

  30. amber on March 20th, 2010 7:22 pm

    I LOVE when you say “beshitted”. It makes me smile every time. And congratulations on kicking ass in school!

  31. Kim on March 21st, 2010 8:32 am

    On the public speaking class – I felt the same way but knew I had to get around it somehow in order to proceed (I’m still not finished with a 4 year degree but that’s another story). I decided to take the class during a Summer term which meant that (A) it was a shorter period of time for the horror and (B) there’d be less people in the class to have to get up and speak in front of. I still needed a little bite of Xanax before each speech, but six weeks later it was over and I’ve not felt that level of relief/satisfaction since then.

  32. Kate on March 21st, 2010 11:33 am

    5 Credits is better than none. Trust me. I finished my Associate of Arts and am working on my Bachelor’s. And I am 35. And usually the oldest one in the class. And don’t take anything like -Religion & Violence- because it just plain sucks. Almost as bad as Public Speaking. Keep on going!

  33. Linda on March 21st, 2010 3:19 pm

    I’ll make a deal with you. You sign up for public speaking and I’ll sign up for beginning watercolor. The idea of painting is terrifying to me. My sister is the artist, after all.

  34. Anonymous on March 21st, 2010 4:17 pm

    Exactly my thoughts, time is passing whether you are learning or not, so why not learn/achieve/conquer something?
    Just had midterms 2 weeks ago here too, only taking one class, forensic anthropology, but expect to buckle down to something that will put letters behind my name next semester!

  35. Donna on March 21st, 2010 4:19 pm

    That was me with forensic anthropology, don’t know why it put me as anon.

  36. monkey on March 21st, 2010 11:53 pm

    Congratulations on your first step! I’ve been math phobic for a really long time but was pleased to discover this year that I wasn’t nearly as bad at it as I thought. Actually, it turned out that I was really pretty good (especially at something that used to freak me out in high school: probability) and did well enough on all my exams to be heading off to a top 10 MBA program in the fall.

  37. monkey on March 21st, 2010 11:57 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t finish my comment-I meant that in my experience (as someone who scrupulously avoided math from age 17-30) the things that we remember being bad at in the past may not necessarily be as insurmountable as we think. I think you’ll surprise yourself.

  38. Shawna on March 22nd, 2010 7:05 am

    In reading your post I immediately thought of Andy, chipping his way to freedom with the rock hammer in Shawshank Redemption. It took him a long, long time (11 years?), but he made it to his goal, and you can too. And you won’t have to crawl through a sewer pipe; bonus!

  39. Alexa on March 22nd, 2010 10:41 am

    Don’t be afraid of the public speaking course. Mine was taught by someone who barely spoke english and I got an A on a speech I did when I had the flu, was totally high on the coedine the school gave me, oh and I made ZERO sense. So trust me, its an easy A go for it :)

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  41. Alyson on March 25th, 2010 4:56 pm

    Good for you! But don’t boo the math or be afraid of it, it runs the world. I’d bet nutrition is really just math; ratios of foods, % daily allowance, calories, etc. Plus, it perpetuates the idea that math is somehow undoable – it’s so doable! Anyone can learn to read, anyone can learn to swim (ahem) and anyone can perform and understand math. I’ll virtually tutor you if you want, I’m certified to teach high school math in MA and anything more complicated would be good for my brain.

  42. Erin on March 29th, 2010 6:54 pm

    I found that when I went back to school in my late 20s/early 30s college was so much easier than when I was 18, 19, 20. Maybe because we’re older and wiser, maybe because we’re paying for it, I don’t know but my grades post 21 years of age are kick ass!

    You can do it! And you WILL do it. And then you’ll look back and wonder why you huffed about it at all! Way to go!

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