I am slightly paraphrasing based on memory, but this was essentially what Zoe Koplowitz said to our group of MSers at a recent NMSS Wellness Expo. I sat there stunned at her words and found myself laughing and crying through her inspirational speech. I think her words ring true for anyone – MSer or not. What is the thing you are most afraid of? Are you afraid of doing it for fear of failure? For fear of the process of doing it? Ponder on it a minute and I will share my own story, because as soon as those words flew out of Zoe’s mouth I knew what I had to do.
I had to finish school.
There I said it. I have never made it a secret that I didn’t graduate from college. I don’t always volunteer the information either. I completed 2 full years plus one more semester at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music and then I withdrew, moved back to Atlanta, began working to support myself and the rest is history. I don’t think not having my undergraduate degree has hurt me all that much in the 10 years since I left CCM; however, it has always felt like this cloud looming over me, pointing and jeering at me behind my back. I always meant to go back. I never saw myself as a person who wouldn’t finish college, it just sort of turned out that way. I was working, making good money, having a career. Then I was getting married and starting my own business on the side teaching kids to sing and dance and life was good. Who needed a college degree? I didn’t have time to go back. I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money anyway. Who would ever really care if I graduated or not?
Well it turns out, I cared. I knew that I hadn’t finished and I cared. It was the thing I had been most afraid of doing. I might fail (again) and have to drop out. Or maybe I wouldn’t be a very good student. I would be too old – the old married lady hanging out with the 18 year olds. And now I could even blame MS for making it too hard to go back! I could have come up with two dozen really good reasons to not ever finish…
Damn that Zoe.
I had to make it as easy as possible on myself. Location was an issue. I don’t always see well, so it had to be easy to get to if I was having a bad day. Well, it turns out there is a school approximately 4 miles from my house called Oglethorpe University. I applied online on a whim, paying my $35 application fee. I sent my transcript and my recommendation form (thanks George!) and I wrote an essay that recounted a particular lesson I had learned from MS (might have even been a cut and paste from a previous blog entry!) All of a sudden I am getting phone calls from the Admission Office and they are offering me a place in the junior class AND offering me a University Scholarship!
I started back to school on Monday, August 25th. The first week was utterly terrifying, finding my way around, battling the heat and fatigue and my rising pain issues of late. It didn’t help matters that I spent last weekend hooked up to immune suppressing steroids to get this quasi-relapse under control. How many college students have to deal with that their first week back? (I am such a Drama Queen!!)
But with the second week now behind me I am finding that I actually
Wish me luck!
Do the thing you don't think you can do.
Whatever it is you are afraid of...Just Do It.