Yesterday, I mentioned how having my last first day of school is a complete mixed bag of feelings. Well, I realized that because I was talking to Dan about it Monday night and ended up in a giant puddle of tears. It’s very complex.
First, I am THRILLED I’m going to be done! I have been in college since August 2008, with only one calendar year off, and in school since I was 5 (20 years now). While I do love to learn, I have grown to really hate school. At the same time, however, school is familiar and safe and it’s going to be really weird not going anymore. I’m not big on rigid schedules, and now my health isn’t either. School definitely requires a rigid schedule. I also can’t stand homework. I know, I know, nobody likes homework. But I loathe it. I have an almost impossible time sitting down to make myself do it. If there is ANYTHING (including cleaning) that I can do instead of homework, it’ll get done. Dan will just say “I need to study” then sit down and do it; while I say “I need to study” and then the house becomes spotless and then the photos on the computer get organized and then my closet is organized by color and then I’ll maybe do the studying I need. I cannot stand homework. Instead of a “graduation party” I’m going to be having a “no more homework” party. Seriously.
Getting a degree is also a mixed bag. I’m glad that after so long in college I’ll have a degree. Sadly, it’s only an associate’s degree. It’s been 14 semesters. Maybe 15, I feel like I’m possibly forgetting a summer semester somewhere. An average four year bachelor’s degree takes 8 semesters, a Mines bachelor’s takes about 10 semesters. An average master’s takes an extra 4 semesters. An average associate’s only takes 4 semesters. So after 14 semesters, it sucks thinking I’m only getting a 4 semester degree. Oh well. The feeling that I need a degree is something else I’m having mixed feelings about. I hate that to be considered “smart,” everyone expects a degree. Without having a degree, I feel as though people look down on me as not being smart. Not true. My academic intelligence is above average for sure. Unfortunately, the only way to prove any academic intelligence is with a stupid piece of paper. I chose to really go after my associate’s degree so that people would believe that I was smart, and because even basic jobs are starting to require them (why in the world do I need two extra years of schooling after high school to answer phones and type out memos?) before they’ll even consider an application. I figured I should get the degree before my previous credits all expired, partially just so I can get a job if I need one.
Graduation also brings with it the dreaded “so what are you going to do?” questions. “Nothing” is just not an acceptable answer. Quite honestly, “nothing” isn’t technically the correct answer. However, I’m expected to go get a “real job,” or to go get a bachelor’s degree. Not doing either one. I love painting, Tangling, creative writing, sewing, designing, coloring, and photography. I’m attempting to make money doing these things (I am working on redesigning my Etsy shop, and I have a Zazzle designer shop), but mostly so that I can help support them. It would be great if I could make enough money to either pay all my own medical bills or pay my own loans. If you are curious about what I’m doing, check out my Busy Bee page.
Not only do I have several hobbies I want to be able to devote my time to, I also have a rather crazy schedule. I usually have at least one doctor appointment a week, sometimes I’ll have five or more. Every Wednesday, I go spend about 30-45 minutes at the allergist to get my allergy shots. Every Monday and Wednesday, I do an hour of Pilates. Every Friday, I try to go to the rec center and spend about 30 minutes to an hour there. My Chronics require rest, so I have to rest in between all of this. Pilates requires at least one full hour of rest before I can really do much else, and doctor appointments are also draining. After about five every evening, I’ve already used almost all of my spoons, so I’m useless. I try to spend time with my friends, one of which has monthly game days (one Saturday a month usually) and he lives over an hour away but I do my best to attend. Some of our other friends have frequent game nights, which we try to attend when possible. Dan and I bought a house that needs to be fixed up (updated from it’s 1980s rental status to a cute young family house), so we spend most of our weekends working on it. I have two kitties that love people time and are on a diet that needs strict monitoring. It’s not like all I do is sit on my couch and watch TV (though that is usually what my rest time is, because I can pay attention to nothing).
“So, what are you going to do?” “Well, not dying is a start.” “Working on my health.” “Getting to be the housewife I’ve always wanted to be.” “Finally getting to spend time on my hobbies.” All of those are good answers, but none of them seem to be acceptable. Why is it that I have to go get a “real job?” I absolutely despise “real jobs” – the schedules, the inflexibility, the incompetent coworkers that inevitably appear, the inability to be outside on beautiful days… the list could go on forever. I’ve had people look at me like I’m betraying everything feminism has worked for, and that I’m a hypocrite for wanting to stay at home while supporting equal rights for humans. All I want to do is be a stay-at-home wife and mother. But, gasp, how could I do that? Or more often, “well, you have to do SOMETHING to get out of the house!” WHY?! Dear geez. I am an introvert. Sure, I have a loud personality, and I may have been an extroverted pre-school child, but years of horrendous bullying changed my personality dramatically. Do I crave people time sometimes? Sure, but I don’t ever get the urge to talk to strangers. When forced into a crowd, I get exhausted and I start having panic attacks. I have to be alone or with only one or two really close friends to recover. When I do things out of the house, I don’t meet new people. I don’t try to make friends with people in my Pilates classes, my school classes, at the gym… I never attempt to make friends. Do I want to sometimes? I suppose. However, they have to start it. Have I made friends, yes; I have a few very good friends from school, but they all initiated it. So, why is it that I need to leave the house? I have some fantastic friends that I’ve made through blogging and other internet resources, in settings where I’m much more comfortable. Pretty sure I’m doing just fine here in my house.
Being afraid of success doesn’t help either. Disappointing people is one thing I cannot stand doing, and every time you succeed it gets easier to disappoint people. The more you succeed, the more people expect you to succeed, and the more crushing each failure becomes. I was terrified when I got my 4.0 GPAs, because I felt if I didn’t keep getting them I would disappoint people. Getting my AA is scary because everyone expects me to either get a job or continue my education, and they’ll be disappointed when I don’t. Well, my parents don’t expect me to continue because they know I really don’t want to. Smart people are supposed to get “real jobs” and do something to change the world in some way. I feel like I’m disappointing people by not doing that, because I grew up hearing from everyone how I was smart enough to do anything I wanted to and how I could change the world. That sentiment is part of why I’m not going to constantly rave about my child being smart. I’m going to celebrate their success and help them learn from their failures, but if they say “I can’t do it” they won’t hear “You’re really smart, you can definitely do it” but instead will hear “Well, what part do you feel you can’t do and what do you think you might be able to? Have you ever done anything like this before?” Anytime I came up against something I didn’t know how to do, I would panic and knock myself out trying to get it done so that I wouldn’t disappoint people. I thought asking for help meant I wasn’t smart, and that would disappoint people. As an adult, I realize it’s silly, but I still feel that way. An associate’s degree means I’ve succeeded, but I feel like I’m failing everyone by doing nothing else about it.
I really am excited about graduation, but I am terrified of all the judgement and disappointment that could follow. I wish I could just enjoy this moment, but alas, sometimes it’s just too hard to ignore the outside world.