Friday, August 03, 2007

Its been a wonderful chapter

He walks by my desk and notices the book I have lying next to my arm, “What’s this?”
“It’s a book that Cynical Sue gave me to read. It’s a book about an immigrant son who is also a first generation college student. She is letting me borrow it because he and are going though some of the same things.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed that.”
“What that I’m an immigrant or a first generation college student?”
He smiles at the immigrant crack because he knows full well that I am not, “No, that you’re a first generation college student.”
“Yep, I am and there are many, many things that I am having trouble with emotionally in terms of that.” He walks away as my eyes fall to my lap and my mind becomes distant as I get emotional just thinking about it. I come from a very Midwest, very blue collar family. All are very successful (some are happy) in what they do, however, no one has been to college in my immediate, and for that matter I can only think of one cousin who has also attended college and has a Master’s degree, in my entire family.

This whole college business, the whole B.A., the whole Master’s program, the thoughts of going after my Ph.D? Yeah, the family doesn’t understand it. No, I mean they don’t understand it at all. When I came back to school a few semesters ago, my mother’s only advice was, “Just don’t drop out this time.”
Gives you warm fuzzies doesn’t it? Yep, that was the only thing that was said to me. Do you know how many times she told me to drop out over the last two years? Too many to count. She didn’t understand the stress of it and hated to see me going though all of the stress and tears; so the fact that I am willing to go through it all again, and in an even more intense way, why in the hell would I do that to myself? They also don’t understand the difference between a Bachelor’s and a Master’s. They don’t understand the degree I am pursuing (Public Policy) and they don’t understand what is that I want to do, (change the world for all of humankind) why I want to do it, (because I can. It's all about the power of one) or what the degree means (personal happiness, personal freedom, a better job, a better future.) I finally sent my mother the link to the Small State U’s website with the link to the program description because she couldn't remember what the program was called or what it is I want to do. She has since printed it out and tacked it to her bulletin board.

I know they are proud of me, I know they wish me well, I also know they don’t understand me, and can’t for the life of them understand why I would willingly put myself though it again, and I have yet to hear, “Congratulations!” from anyone that has the same blood as me. This doesn’t do a lot for the moral or self-motivation factor. Does a lot for the self-doubt, self reflection, what the hell am I doing, factor.

The parent’s don’t understand the stress, the determination, the love of education and knowledge and the differences in the level of degrees. They don’t understand the money involved in college tuition, the financial sacrifices, the personal life that goes to the way-side, the sleep deprivation, the student loans, the textbooks (one semester in explaining the textbook buyback my mother exclaimed, “Well, that’s just a big ripe off.” Yes, yes it is. Welcome to academia.) any and all of it is misunderstood, which means, I am misunderstood, my goals are misunderstood, so therefore the support system and the words of encouragement are not always what I need, get, or want and the cheerleading is shown in words of, “you need to drop out and get a job.”

So. This next week is going to be rote with emotion. I am leaving my family (who drive me crazy, but I do love ‘em) and friends (who, over the past year, I have discovered who my real ones are and who were only using me) a job I love and adore, a place I have called home for thirty-three years all to start a new chapter in my life. However, the thing I am going to miss the most is the support, love, words of encouragement, and cheerleading I receive everyday when I walk into my job. I don’t think it is a huge secret that I work at a very large college and have for several years. I work within a particular office and I work with a great group of students. The students change with the semesters and with the seasons; many I love many I want to kick to the curb most have been exceptional and have been an inspirational to get to know their stories and see them grow over the years. But it is the staff, the instructors, who I work with, learn from, interact with, and have the most wonderfully random conversations with on a ongoing basis that have truly been the kick I’ve needed to keep going when the days, weeks, months have been tough. Their words of encouragement, wisdom, sarcasm, cynicism, and pats on the back, and cheerleading, which I am going to miss so very dearly. So, so very dearly when I leave next week. The intellectual and the asinine conversations, the loud laughter, the randomness, the sentences of, “…what is wrong with the students today….?!?!?!” The wonderful pressure of, “So, when are you going after your Master’s?” Which have now turned into, “So, where are you going to go for your Ph.D?” The students who say the kindest words to me, wave to me from across campus, who I pass by on the sidewalks, the days when I accomplish nothing at work because everyone stops by to talk and has the need for me to play psychologist, doctor, teacher, bartender, friend who are the encouragement and the push that I need because they see and know things about me that I haven’t had the opportunity to discover in myself yet. Knowing that so many people who I work with, meet, and have conversations with throughout the day have meant so very much to me. But I also have the knowledge that I have meant just as much, and have made such a difference to so many people; and that's when I realize that this chapter is going to be a very diffuclt one to close, but I also realize I truly do have a wonderful life.


Jay said...

Always forward, lovely.

Always forward. *hug*

limpy99 said...

"Yea, tho' I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil. Because I am the meanest motherfucker in the valley"

Just some fodder for your parents, UCONN just hired a new president. He has a Ph.D in, I think, public policy.

Salary = $550,000 a year.

Nick said...

I run into a similar issue with my Mom and Aunt and Uncle regarding my doing triathlons... they just don't get it.

I've never gotten a "Wow, that's great." or a "Good job on beating your PR".

I get a lot of "that's insane" and "I can't believe you do that."

They don't actively discourage me... I think it's mostly just not understanding why I do it.

Luckily for me I don't really care what they think.

Party Girl said...

Jay: thanks, babydoll

Limpy: Okay, that's being printed off and going in a frame and sitting on my next desk, that's all there is to it. Instead of the "buck stops here" mine is going to say, "I'm a mean mo fo."

Nick: I'm not really a, care what the others think, type of person either, but moral support whether a person understand the goals or not, is always a nice thing to have.

Bre said...

Oh honey! From the outside, I recognize the struggle of the first gens, but from the inside it must feel so much more challenging! I'll be thinking of yoU!

ptg said...

It's hard to feel pressure from both outside and inside your "familial home." I can't imagine, but know that you have enough balls to make it through. :o) Another chapter will begin, and I'm sure will have yet another happy ending (no pun intended).

appletini said...

Im a first generation college student too. So I totally understand. Luckily, my mom understood how important it is to have a college degree and that helped my dad understand too.


Guilty Secret said...

All this just makes it more amazing that you are doing it... when I was studying for my finals I don't think I could have made it without people around me who understood how hard it was so good on you for battling on through.

GirlGoyle said...

your parents may not understand you but they sure do make an extra effort to try which is great. This chapter may be written but the book is far from being done yet. I think great adventures await you and us who read about them. :)

Party Girl said...

Bre: It just hard when the understand isn't there. That's when it is really tough on I come to you guys.

ptg: Okay, when I am crying the tears and frustrated as hell, please remind me of that, okay? Deal?

Apple: And the same to you!

GS: Why thank you and thanks for stopping by.
I think that is why it is so important to have the people I worked with around me for the past years.

GG: Thank honey, and you're right...they do try. I look forward to sharing just as much!

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