I have always thought that everyone wants to tell their story. Everyone wants to write a memoir, to explain their life, and even more than that, to simply be seen. Social media provides a taste of this feeling, but often screaming into the void of Facebook or Twitter does not provide a full picture, or a too shiny one.
The problem is the issue of context. Begin to tell one story and you find that your readers won’t understand it unless they hear another, and that one is tangled with yet another, and so the story becomes so overwhelming that giving up or telling a jumbled mess become the only apparent conclusions, which means your story never gets told.
So instead of reaching into the past to try to help you explain how I got here, I’m going to tell you stories in the now and link to the past when necessary.
After losing my job it was tenuous whether I could continue with my accounting degree. I’ve been working on it for a long time, since 2011, because I have had to pay out of pocket, because I used up my student loan availability on my previous degrees, my previous search for the end of the rainbow. Without the extra money I made teaching online, I was unsure if I could afford the two classes I would need to take.
I signed up for two classes though, as you can take the entire semester to pay as long as you also pay late fees. If the money came, it came. If it didn’t, then it would be over and I wouldn’t pay anything. I selected a basic statistics course and a French 1 course, the former because I’m teaching Probability and Statistics in my new job and it would be a good refresher, and the latter because we are still hopeful that we will make it to Paris next Christmas and the more French I can relearn the better. Both because I didn’t want to take the chance of failing or not affording actual accounting classes.
I was ready to do well in these classes in case they would count, but then the hurricane happened, and my teaching job demanded more of me than I initially expected, so I fell behind. I have managed to keep my head above water because they are both online courses, but it has been difficult.
Today I had to go to campus, as the online French course has in-person exams for the midterm and final. I hadn’t studied, I had forgotten about the midterm. I almost took the time this weekend to look things over, but I do not learn well from cramming. I have to split my learning up into smaller chunks and my brain just collects the facts like a bouquet of flowers and arranges them in a way that makes sense and is easily recalled later. So instead of frustrating myself doing something I knew would yield no results, I enjoyed my weekend and left today to take the exam.
I was there 5 minutes tops, answered 70 questions, and got an 83%.
I took 3.5 years of French in high school 16 years ago. I have spent a total of maybe 2 hours each week doing the assignments for the class, and I have not read the textbook.
This is me, figuratively crawling through the mud, keeping my mouth out of the muck and the wet long enough to take a breath, to extend my arms one more time to pull myself another inch, another centimeter towards what might be a better future. I am doing the best that I can, but it is not my best. I constantly want to give up. I constantly want to let the mud consume me and just accept my fate.
Some small spark keeps me crawling. As long as there is a chance, I’ll keep working. Keep breathing. Keep trying.
So I got an 83% on a midterm and turned in all my work this week. It’s so much less than I could do, but it’s exactly what I can do right now, and that’s all that matters. When you get older and have to make the choice between accepting what you have and striving for something better, it’s always easier to give in and accept. It’s very difficult, at 34, to keep taking classes and to believe that change is possible. And it only gets more difficult. But today I decided to keep going, and hope for the money to appear so I can pay for this semester and head into (hopefully) my last one.
Not time for giving up.