My Road Taken

About a year and a half ago I quit my job as an Executive Assistant and returned full time to Rowan University to finish my degree. After 22 classes (that should have been spread over five semesters) three Dean's list certificates, countless numbers of fiction stories and poems, all either read, written, academically analyzed or all of the above, I finally graduated with my BA in Writing Arts. Like many woman my age, I was one of the staunch marchers in the new wave of feminism that hit the country in the '70's. I really believed in the cause for women, believed in equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities for education; basically, equality across the board. That was at least how I saw it back then.
When I divorced and tried to raise my daughter, I thought that all the marching and signed petitions and bills that were passed would help with my new-found head of household status. What I found was this: I could get an education IF I could support myself. Or, I could support myself and not get the education. And of course the old cycle of: can't get the job without the education, can't get the education without the job to support the education ... and more importantly couldn't make the money needed to fully support a family on a single paycheck without a degree.

It took me 25 years to finish my four year degree. I took my first class at Rowan in January of 1984. I took one creative writing class in 1992, I came back full time in 1996, and finally again in 2008 to finish my degree. I should have graduated in the '88 - '89 school year. If you read my transcript, you can map the really bad financial times. That is when each class is followed by a resounding W. Withdrawal. Not just from the classes, but also from what my life was supposed to be. Withdrawal from the pursuit of who I knew I was and what I could accomplish as a person; withdrawal from the writer I wanted to become.

For all of my belief in change in the system, for all of my protesting, for all of my idealistic beliefs, the equality I found was this: When I divorced in 1980 I lost my credit, my home, any substantial financial support that would allow me to pursue my education AND support myself and my daughter. I did what I thought was the wise choice and took jobs I hated and lived in places that I hated because I couldn't afford what I wanted because I didn't have the education to get there.

But the more disturbing aspect of all of this was that I was letting go of the one thing about myself that gave me a sense of accomplishment and a strong sense of self: my writing. By saying this was the thing to let go and not pursue meant that my deepest desire for myself, as a person, had no validity. It meant that everything else was more important than I was to myself.

I have finally rediscovered that voice in me that started scribbling into her pink locked diary every night before she went to bed. The little voice that wrote lyrics to musical strains because it seemed empty without them. The voice that wrote, in spite of the lack of technical prowess or understanding of how the construction of a poem changes how it says what it says. But most importantly I have found that, that little voice matured with me and understands the world around her much better now than she did back then. We are finally on the same path again and that path's road sign reads: Following My Dream.

I have learned at least this: we all have dreams and to others those dreams may seem unattainable. But if you see your dreams as an intricate part of who you are, don't let anything or anyone stop you from pursuing them. Nothing is more important than your dreams. Today I am finally pursuing mine and this road leads to graduate school and an MFA in Creative Writing, in Poetry. I'm glad that life has a way of bringing you around to where you ought to be, eventually. Were all the hard road lessons necessary? I don't know. But I do know this, we don't know the rocks in the middle of the road less traveled. But the road I came down has given me wisdom, strength and the courage to still pursue my dreams.

1 comment:

Screenplays for Sale said...

Life has a funny way of incessantly tapping you on the shoulder and whispering into your ear. The key is to listen. Very poignant and profound.