Back is the New Forward

It’s been a long time—somewhere in the vicinity of 12 years—since I’ve been to school. I graduated high school in 1998, a couple years before my projected graduation date, and took a whopping 2 semesters at a couple of small colleges before dropping out and becoming part of the workforce, where I stayed for about a decade. Realizing how much I regretted that decision was part of what prompted me to leave my longstanding job in favor of pursuing my writing career, but what’s come as a surprise to me is that though I really did hate school, I now find myself entirely preoccupied with the prospect of going back.

I guess this is somewhat common, of late. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people 30 years and older going back to school, and have several friends who’ve done it. I just never expected to number myself among them.

See, I didn’t just hate school a little bit. I hated it with a vehemence bordering on religious fanaticism. This was partly because I wasn’t a high performer. I got good grades, generally speaking, but it was a lot of work for me to get there, and I wasn’t what you might call “motivated”. Unless you mean motivated to find literally anything to do that didn’t involve doing homework. And I don’t think I did any non-homework studying of any kind. Ever.

The flipside? I loved (and still love) to learn. I spent a lot of my free time learning about things that interested me, and have since studied any number of things on my own time, including Japanese—日本語の勉強が大好きだよ。—Japanese and Irish history, literature, and any number of writing disciplines. But these things are hard to squeeze in when you’ve got a busy schedule and full-time job that demands most of your time.

And that was the key. Realizing how much more learning meant to me compared to employment was an epiphany, and though trepidation has kept me from biting the bullet and deciding to go back to school in earnest, it’s been on my mind for a long time. When I was young, I wanted to be paid for time if I was going to have to spend it doing something I didn’t really want to be doing, but that was a ridiculous way of looking at it. The reality is that no matter how much you’re being paid, you’re always spending time; and with each day that goes by, you realize how little a dead-end office job is offering you. Sure, I could have spent my whole life at the job I had, and I could have promoted and made an excellent salary, but at what point does salary become less important than personal development? Than a life that matters to the one living it?

However it happened, and whatever small realizations led up to the big one, a germinating idea finally sprouted, and I’m again on the road to education.

Now let’s just hope I don’t crash and burn in the first semester. Remembering just how bad I am at math was … rather less than pleasant, and it looks like preparatory classes are likely in my future.

It’s been a long time, pre-algebra. Please be gentle.

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