Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just Do It

“Do the thing you don’t think you can do”, she says. “Do the thing you are most afraid of and you will then realize you are capable of more than you ever thought possible.”

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 might be kind of enjoying it! I am slowly adapting to my new persona as College Student. I have a new backpack and notebooks and new highlighters and pens and am making new friends. Most of the kids in my class find it fascinating that A) I am married, B) I own my own home and C) am rapidly approaching age 30. I haven’t disclosed my MS much yet. I did meet with Oglethorpe’s Learning Resource Coordinator to discuss the issues of my disability and he was amazing. He has ordered my books electronically where I can download them and my computer can read them to me. He told me that if I ever do have to miss class to undergo treatment related to my MS, they will help me work through it so I wouldn’t have to withdraw or fail the class or anything.

I got my very first paper back yesterday and it was a A! Chris put it on the fridge :-) But I am really trying not to be an overachiever about such things. I don't expect to get A's on everything. I am perfectly okay with B's, even C's. This isn't about the final grades. It is about the process. And there is no timeline. I have no idea how long it will take me or if I will graduate. I am taking it one day at a time. But I suppose I am giving it the old college try.
Wish me luck!

Do the thing you don't think you can do. 
What have you got to lose? 
If you fail, you fail! So what!  
Failing is a great learning process, too. :-)
Whatever it is you are afraid of...Just Do It. 



DLP609 said...


Thank You for sharing this.
It's what I needed to hear and 'feel' as I read your blog.

I and my sister have a dream but have been afraid( of failure)
I am ready to actually write out a plan, address finance options and discuss with her how WE CAN DO IT !

click those red shoes and say there's no place like living your dreams.
thank you and God Bless
dxed. 4/07

barandpaul said...

We are sooo proud of you sweetie. and I love the A paper on the refridgerator. love barandpaulxoxoxoxoxxoxo

CrewJulie said...

Congratulations Caroline! Way to go in tackling that fear and getting an A! I have to work on tackling my own fears - they are many...

I met you about three weeks into your 'saga' at KarenChatters bachlorette. While I've popped in a couple time since we met, I haven't kept up with your happenings. However, today I chatted with a coworker and learned his wife is in the process of possibly being diagnosed with MS. I remembered your blog and have forwarded the address to them. You might get contacted by a woman named Cheryl.

I was sorry to see I missed an MS event at the zoo. If you do something like that again, keep me in mind; I'll join your red shoes team - we love the zoo, and I am a past participant of five MS150 bike rides.

I can be found at julie329 DOT vox DOT com.