[Why I’m Glad I Graduated]
A Dream about School and a Not-So-Reality
Last night I had a dream that I was back in school somehow, living on my own but waking up in the early dawn and packing a bag full of textbooks, lunch and a change of clothes for gym class. When I arrived at what seemed to be high school, I had a new locker combination to memorize and a schedule of seven classes to locate and remember. The trek from class to class was ridiculously long and I felt like I was speed walking a marathon every day, taking breaks to listen to teachers lecture on math or science. A crowd of people whose names I would never know by heart bustled on past in the hallways, and my backpack forever weighed me down like a ton of bricks on my aching shoulders.
School in my city starts up again this week and my husband is getting ready to start teaching, so no wonder my sleeping brain is set on the back-to-school buzz. Do you still call it a dream when the dream is actually quite similar to a past reality, just a memory playing itself out? I suppose it’s still a dream. But this year I am very thankful that the reality of school is in the past, part of my upbringing and not my adulthood. I am happy to be a graduate and to be looking ahead to working full-time this fall instead of being a student for the first time in eighteen years.
Making Peace with a Mixed Bag Experience
I listened to a sermon today about making peace in our hearts during the confusing and hard times of life, so I’m trying to figure out how that applies to my memories of school because it certainly was a confusing and hard time. I’m committing to trying to learn something from my experience by being still and holding on to the feelings. Right now I feel like I’m starting at point A. I’m not very far along in the peacemaking process, though I’m hoping to get there someday.
It’s possible that I just have a couple of bad experiences that I’ve let under my skin, that have stayed there and made me feel the way I do about academics. Poor advising sums up most of the problems I had, in addition to circumstances – having to move to a small town in the middle of high school and then entering college at a time when the music department was in serious turmoil. Most poignantly, a couple of influential professors seemed to have it out for me, and they sure let me know. I wish I could be more thankful for my education. It’s not that I’m not thankful – I’m proud to have the knowledge I’ve gained and the degree that’s allowed me to do work that I love. I just believe there is a right way to do school and a wrong way too and my experience leaned a little too far on the underwhelming side of things.
To be fair, there were a few aspects the system got right for me, particularly some of the opportunities I was given and a few respected teachers who inspired me. I had the opportunity to perform with high quality musical ensembles I was connected with through concert band and choir, helping form my concept of musicianship and understand the performance level I was working towards. I was also given a couple of leadership positions in and outside of music activities, which boosted my confidence and helped me grow.
If I could do it all over again, I would try to have a better attitude despite all the academic and relational struggles. Fortunately though, doing it over isn’t an option. Graduating from college is one of the happiest memories of my life, probably second to my wedding day. Life is good, and it is exciting, but life after college is even better. I am excited to be a graduate and I am excited to be doing my own work and making my own choices about how to spend my energies and time. Perhaps it’s just the shiny newness of working full-time building my very own piano studio, but work is something I’ve always enjoyed even in the part-time times of life. I love my desk, I love my files and books, and I love my private students that I get to teach one-on-one and build a mentoring relationship with – something outside of school that I treasured when I was the student on the piano bench.
As back-to-school hits this season, I’ve been watching the scads of moms and dads poring over their lists and picking out supplies for their kids, crowding the aisles at Walmart and Target trying to find the best deals. I always loved the shopping part of going back to school. I love notebooks, and glue sticks, and calculators. I’ve always been an office sort of girl. The best thing about not going back to school is that now, after eighteen years of rushing in the back-to-school hustle, I get to sit back and watch it all go by, and then pick out whatever I want for my big girl desk at my big girl job, the dream I’ve been dreaming of all along, and that makes my heart very happy. Being present in this beautiful time of life God’s given me now is hopefully a great first step on the path to making peace with my past.
Namaste, memories. Welcome, new life!