My mom always struggled through school growing up. She had to get help from this wonderful teacher she has told me a lot about in order to graduate. (I believe she has ADHD because our struggles are extremely similar when it comes to school).
My parents, when I was 5, had me tested (by this wonderful teacher who helped my mom out)…now, she wasn’t a therapist or anything like that, she could just tell us what kind of a learner I am. So I wasn’t tested as a kid for ADHD, but it wasn’t such a big thing back then. This teacher stated that I am a 90% visual learner. So…lectures are pretty much out of the question haha (good luck, right?). My mom never went to college and that was ok for her, she didn’t have a desire to go, which is completely fine! No one has to go to college if they are happy doing whatever it is that they are doing. Because of my mom never going to college, her struggles through school, etc. my parents basically told me I wouldn’t go to college and that was ok. I know and appreciate that the reason behind them saying these kind of things, was to let me know that it was ok to not go to college, and to not be too hard on myself when it came to education. Because of this, I just always assumed I wouldn’t go to college and so I didn’t really try in school.
When my dad became an evangelist and we left our school, my parents decided to homeschool my brother and me. Well, as you can imagine, my mom (who was going through all kinds of mental health issues and just struggling and fighting to become healthy), didn’t really spend a whole lot of time making sure I was doing well in my classes. At times, she even gave me the answer keys so that I could just get through it. But I remember at 9 years old thinking that I wanted to be a psychologist one day. Of course, at 9 years old I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I would need higher education.
After graduating high school, I began working at a doctor’s office and just living day to day life. I was happy, I didn’t mind how my life was, but there came a time that I considered college. I would dismiss those thoughts though because I knew I wasn’t smart enough and I would just be so lost. There was no way I could do it. My then best friend, Todd, was engaged to Jane. Todd thought it would be a good idea if Jane and I got to know each other.
One day, Todd called me up to have lunch with him and Jane. So I joined them for lunch and Todd ended up leaving pretty soon after I got there, leaving me and Jane alone. I thought, this is a setup-he planned this. Even though I was a little bit unsure about how I felt about her, I began to really enjoy our conversation. She was going to a small Christian college in North Carolina and she told me all about it. I thought it sounded really cool even though it wasn’t Baptist…(gah! so thankful for my mindset changing!!). She suggested that I check the school out. I was surprised by this, but just figured I’d listen to her and maybe check the school out, even though in the back of my mind I was like, girl, you don’t know about me, but I’ll hear you out for a minute.
After talking for a while, I decided I’d go ahead and spend a few days at her college with her and just check it out. I did still have a small desire to be a counselor so why not just check it out? So I did. I really enjoyed staying with her in the dorms and meeting the super nice staff and I enjoyed the classes I sat in on. I started thinking, hmm, maybe I could do this? I decided to go ahead and try to get in and just kind of see what would happen. I had never taken the SATs or ACTs, I didn’t really have high school transcripts or anything official. But the college worked with me and I was actually accepted. What? What’s happening here? Am I actually considering college? Am I actually going? Oh, I guess I am. weird.
I ended up deciding to take a few classes at our local community college first, just to see what I thought about being in the classes and do my testing and all that good stuff. So I had to take pre-algebra because my math scores were horrible (surprise-I know!) I also had to take a remedial English class because those scores were low as well (I literally had no idea how the write a paper). So…I began my classes. Neither class was near as difficult as I had expected. Math sucked a bit because I really didn’t know how to do any of it. I got tutoring though and just did my very best. I ended up getting a B in the class. I did so well in the English class that the teacher pull me aside one day and said I didn’t even need to come back to the class because I was doing so well, she was going to pass me. What.
I realized that I could actually do this. I was determined to learn all of these basic things that I didn’t know and to show myself and others that I could do this. My English professor had no clue that I didn’t know how to write a paper and was literally learning everything from this class. Apparently, I could do this. Apparently, I’m not stupid.
My dad told me that he would not financially support me because the college I wanted to attend was not Baptist. Cool. Fantastic. We definitely had a few heated discussions and I tried praying with him and getting him to see that hating other denominations was not ok. My mindset was beginning to change already. I wanted to go to this school, so with his support or not, I was going to go. It wouldn’t be easy, but who said life was always going to be easy? I like a good challenge.
During one of our many discussions, my dad asked me, “why do you even want to go to college?” It was said in a way that was like, uhm…you aren’t very smart…do you remember how much you struggled in school? Him saying this fueled my fire. If nothing else comes of it, I’m going to college to show my family and myself that I can do this. I’m not stupid.
A few months later, I was off to college. I wasn’t scared at all, which was incredibly surprising to me because I was always too scared to go to real school growing up. I was excited for this new experience and knew that if I sucked at it, oh well…I’d move back home and go back to work and it would be ok. But I ended up with A’s and loving my classes and making new friends. Life was taking a turn that I never would have expected. I was in college. The thought of going to college never even crossed my mind before right around the time that I had lunch with Jane.
I had many ups and downs and I struggled a lot during my last two years of college. I failed a couple classes, but thankfully my GPA never got too low to graduate (even though it was very close at times). I remember spending hours and hours in the school library during work that other students could finish quickly. Trying to sit there and focus on my work was literally painful and I spent a good bit of time crying and just being so frustrated. I remember during one of my last semesters, praying and telling God that school was so painful and I didn’t know if I was going to make it. So I felt this strong desire to take out a Bible and turn straight to Hebrews 12:11, which read, “For the moment all disciple seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the fruit of righteousness by those who have been trained by it.” This was one of those moments that let me know I was heard. This was the encouragement I needed to keep me going. I had worked so hard, I could not give up right here at the end. I would graduate college. I was determined to make it through those classes. And I did. I graduated fall semester of 2012.
My mom told me all through college that she was so surprised and incredibly proud of me. I knew my mom believed in me, but those words my dad said, “why do you even want to go to college?” played through my head at times and I had a deep need for my dad to see my success and to hear that he was proud of me…and not just proud of me because I’m his daughter and he loves me so he’s proud of what I do, no matter what. But a proud as in, wow, this person went to college and worked so hard and graduated. But even though he said he was proud of me, I didn’t quite feel it. But even if he was or wasn’t, I was proud of myself. I showed myself that I can do what I set my mind to do.
Fall of 2013 I moved back home and after searching for months for a job and finally getting one at a local preschool, I decided that I needed to further my education to pursue my dream of becoming a counselor. I thought and prayed about it for almost a year though because it’s a whole lot of money to spend if I’m not completely sure that this was something I could do. Finally, I decided to go ahead and do it. Even though I had spent countless days full of tears and struggling in undergrad and I knew that graduate school would be a new kind of challenge, I felt like I could do it. So I am. I’ve been taking classes since 2014 and am not too terribly far from finishing! Sometimes I’m still pretty shocked that I’m doing this. Not too long ago, my dad told me that he was talking to someone and he said he bragged on me because I am in graduate school–he even teared up. This is the kind of proud I was wanting. Finally. I felt like my dad was genuinely proud me--not just because I am his daughter.
Also…I finally went to the psychiatrist to be tested for ADHD. Guess what?! I know you don’t know this, but…I.do.have.ADHD. No wonder sitting and trying to focus for hours at a time was literally painful! No wonder I would have to read my textbooks over and over and over again to actually process the information because half the time my mind had checked out. No wonder I couldn’t ever focus in class and when I was called on to answer questions I never knew the answer because my mind was elsewhere. So embarrassing sometimes. This one time…I was in class and apparently had a nice smile on my face while staring at the professor (even though I wasn’t actually looking at him at all and was off in space somewhere), so the professor thought I was very interested in what he was talking about…so he asked me a question. Great. No idea what he just asked me or what we’re even talking about. So I asked him what the question was and he laughed and said, “man, I thought you were really interested in what I was talking about with that smile on your face.” Oops. my friends got a good laugh out of it at least. You’re welcome, friends.
Do not let anyone determine your future for you (even if they mean well). If you want to do it-If you have a dream-Go for it! Maybe you’ll just surprise yourself and make it.