Twenty years ago (minus 7 months or so) I graduated from college. Since then, I had not so much as stepped a foot in a college classroom, until last August. I have made some big decisions in my life, we all have. But this one was quite different. This one involved going beyond any place I had been in the previous five years. It started with going to a NAMI Connections meeting once a week; initially a good way to get out and meet people that are in the same situation. Going back to school seemed like a logical next step on my way back to a normal life. That was until school actually started and I was thrown into classes that lasted all day and into the night. There were more people there than I was prepared for, people were everywhere. There I was, out in the open, by myself with nowhere to take cover. But that’s what I was shooting for. Wasn’t it? This was my way of proving to myself that I was progressing. This was my way of proving to those around me that I was able to take care of myself, at least a little bit.
I had no idea how hard it was going to be. My first few weeks were terrifying, at least on the inside. I was putting on a pretty good show on the outside. After that the outside started to match the inside. I was having a particularly hard time with two of my classes and I was seriously considering dropping out. It was starting to become impossible to keep up appearances. I muddled through and I started to figure things out. I started to understand how to keep up with the work that I needed to do for each class to make sure deadlines were met and not just met but with the best effort I could. As the time went on, the craziness of the first few weeks settled down to a low rumble in the background. I spent a lot of time, away from school, with my head buried in a book or working away on the computer. It never stopped. There were five classes pushing me in one direction or pulling me in another. If there was a weakness at the beginning of the semester, there was a strength at the end.
All that hard work paid off and I am stronger and more sure of myself than I have been in over five years. In just a few short weeks, I’ll go back for my second round. I’ve set the bar pretty high, but then this is how I want it to go.
I’m in charge.
I’m in control.
I am proud of myself.