I would love to give credit where credit is due for the above, but I have no idea where I got it. But this is the post where I finally talk about the other side. Of course, from the title of the post, you probably envisioned a juvenile describing the loss of their virginity, a la American Pie. Well, though I have my childish moments, I am not a juvenile and, though I hate to break this news, the whole virginity thing went out the window a long time ago, folks.
No, this one is about setting a goal. One that seemed massive at the time. One that seemed highly unlikely. And then it is about reaching that goal. Or at least having the reaching of that goal so close that its taste is on one’s tongue.
I’m going to start the discussion off by telling you (or perhaps reminding you, in case I have mentioned it before and have just forgotten) that my first attempt at higher education was less than successful. My mom was sick. No, I mean, she was really sick, but she didn’t really reveal this to any of us. So I spent my senior year of high school noticing how Mom was in and out of the hospital more and more. Somehow she convinced me to go to college anyway, but she kept getting put in the hospital.I was the first one in my family to go to college straight out of high school, to be labeled “the smart one”. She was proud, I think, and so I went. On several occasions, I would call home to discover that she was in intensive care. So there I was, a coddled kid away from home for the first time; a music major trying to study something I loved so much when really, I just loved to play and my mom was my biggest fan. And my mom was a home, dying. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t do well at all. My grades were barely passing. I had gone from the smart kid in honors classes, to the one who couldn’t hack it. When mom finally dies about 2 weeks before final exams, I just dropped out. I couldn’t do it.
It scarred me. Mom’s death did, but the whole experience did also. When my life was calm enough, when I could look back on that time, I wondered about many things. Was I really just stupid? Was it the circumstances of the time in my life? Maybe I wasn’t college material after all. But I saw my life as it was unfolding, and I knew I could do so much more. And I met John, and he saw it, too. And he talked me into enrolling in some classes.
Just a couple of classes. I read that line to him just now. He smiled. He knows what he did just as much as he knew what he was doing then. Just a tiny spark. At a tiny community college where they do more training for careers than anything else. But I had been to a large university before, so I could tell that the classes seemed to be of the same caliber. Still, self-talk does weird things to us. But I enrolled in their respiratory program. I took the weed-out classes that all nursing and allied health students have to take. These careers, these jobs are stable, so these programs are usually turning applicants away. They make some of the prerequisites really difficult to separate the candidates by who will most likely be successful. And I had to take those classes. I aced them all. My classmates would hate me because I would wreck the curve. I literally scored greater than 100% for a couple of them because my professor curved others’ grades and didn’t feel it was fair to not give me the same point advantage. Still, the self-talk continued.
“It’s just a community college, Andrea. When you were at the real university, you sucked. You’re not really smart.”
And so I finished that program. With honors. I was recognized at graduation. I took my boards. I got my license. I started working in my field. And some part of me wanted more.
I wondered if the old dream of medicine could really take flight. I wondered if it was just because it was a community college. And so I enrolled in pre-med classes, to finish my bachelor’s.
And I got pregnant with Zach. And put on bedrest. I had been doing well, too.
More self-talk. Telling me I was silly. Telling me I was foolish. And then I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to ensure my children would grow up in complete financial security with their mother present. I realized I had been given a gift with each of them, and I was taking that for granted. So I did some soul-searching, determining what it was I wanted to do. What I really wanted.
And I enrolled in an undergraduate program. Straight A’s. It was community college all over again. I nailed everything I touched, and I finished summa cum laude. But I did it online. And so I thought to myself, “Yes, but was it really hard? Was it really a challenge? It was just an online program!”
And so I told John that I wanted to go on to my master’s. To my MBA. And I remember when I was telling him this, that my heart skipped a beat. I really wanted it. I meant what I said. But thus far, every attempt at what I have really wanted has either fallen through or been derailed by my own shortcomings. To speak of this out loud was unimaginable, because it gave life to what I wanted. It gave me some accountability to myself. So I looked, and I discovered that the university practically in my backyard had a nationally-ranked MBA program. I applied.
They weren’t supposed to actually accept me.
And on the eve of my first class, I was so nervous. Walking into my first class, I got butterflies. They were going to laugh me out of there. I wasn’t smart enough. More self-talk. That girl needs to learn when to shut her mouth.
Because I have nailed it. In a few weeks, I start my last semester, which includes my corporate governance capstone. On December 19, I will be able to put MBA behind my name. And for the first time, I can try and try to self-talk myself out of this all I want. The logic counteracts it. I am doing this. I am doing it. And as I prepare to enter my last semester, it is becoming more real. I hope my mom is watching. I hope she can see. Maybe what she saw in me all that time ago was more accurate than what I saw in myself. And I can kind of see what she was seeing.