Continuing with Carolyn’s story, you’ll remember she grew up overseas and moved to the U.S. as a live-in nanny when she was 20. She left her marriage at 27, with two young children, no job and no professional qualification. Not a very bright picture. Now, 18 months later, she’s worked hard to earn prerequisites and has just been accepted into a two-year registered nursing program. Confident now that she will be successful at college, her future looks much brighter. Here’s Carolyn’s take on it.
When I first moved out, I stayed with married friends of ours. He has a Ph.D. and was telling me,
“Carolyn, I didn’t go to college until I was in my late twenties. You should really consider going back to school.”
I said, (and he’s quoted this back to me)
“I would rather die than go back to school. I would never go back to school. I hated school. I’m no good at school. I’m going to find a job.”
After a few months of looking for jobs, school started sounding like a better idea. I thought about hairdressing school but practically speaking, you can’t make a lot of money doing that when you’re working mother’s hours. People who are making good money as hairdressers are in big cities, working peak times like the evenings and weekends. They build up a clientele and it takes time. It’s just not a very realistic notion for a single mom.
I thought about teaching but that would be a four-year degree. I kept looking and then settled on a registered nurse because it’s a two-year program. It’s a technical school near me, there’s inexpensive tuition and once you’re accepted into the program, there are grants. They actually have a grant for “non-traditional students,” which is their fancy PC word for single mom.
It just made a lot of sense. It’s something I’ve been interested in before and I think I’ve got an aptitude for science. It’s going to enable me to have flexible hours and earn a decent income with less time and money in college. I think it’ll be possible for me to work full-time while not sacrificing the little time I actually get to spend with my children.
I started back at school last fall working on some prerequisites. I was so scared going back. I had a few panic attacks the week or two before and I felt I was just going to make a big flop on my face. My ex scoffed at me,
“Whatever! It’s not like you’re going to finish. You’re just wasting time and money.”
I remember worrying that he was right but I worked extra hard and I got straight A’s.
I realized I don’t have good study habits. I don’t have a good track record because I didn’t like being there and I was never motivated. I think for years I didn’t try because I was paralyzed by the idea I might fail. If I didn’t try, then I could pass it off as ‘oh, I’m not interested. I don’t want to go to college.’
But, I’ve got a good head on my shoulders and, if I’m motivated to study, I actually learn pretty well. The difference is now I have the motivation and the confidence to try.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that it’s worth trying. It is scary to risk failure, but it’s worse to just not try. I’m learning that more often than not, I AM able to figure out the things I’m willing to try.
It’s not easy taking a risk and making a a big commitment to go back to school, when the person you thought was closest to you is putting you down. I think the school administrators would have looked at Carolyn’s application and seen a strong, determined, committed student with a desire to succeed. I’m guessing she’ll be an asset to any lecturer’s classroom. Her experience and perspective as a single mom will also give her a special understanding and compassion for her patients.
Divorce forces many of us to take a risk. Jolene (of the To Be Determined blog) who I interviewed a few months ago, is now training as a kick-boxing instructor – she’s a PR professional by day so it’s a big change for her. She just wrote an excellent post about when taking the chance is almost as satisfying as the challenge itself. It’s all about personal growth and well worth reading. And please, do visit Carolyn’s blog – Leap and the Net Will Appear – love that title. It says it all about leaving the safety of a marriage.