Batten Down the Hatches--"One Year" Down

Have you ever been asked something so many times that your response somehow becomes naturally scripted? The words are released without any real effort as if they're nothing more than just noises emitted spontaneously. Chances are they sound real enough because at some point you meant believed in what you were saying, but somewhere along the way the feelings that built those words have long since dissipated, leaving an irrefutable hollowness. But yet you still say them.

I absolutely despise talking about my future plans because of this. I understand that most people who ask are genuinely curious, and that's what makes it hard for me when I try to condense any ideas I have into just a few words in an attempt to abate the question.

As Bill Burr would say, I'm living the dream. This last year I returned to school full time in hopes I can turn what was simply a hobby of sorts into something more. I don't have a real clear destination envisioned yet. Some days I'm okay with that, and some days it's really fucking hard to be okay with the uncertainty. That lack of assurance can be can make you second guess choices made. It can make you put a shit-ton of unnecessary weight on your achievements because in the back of your mind you perceive people are watching to see what happens next. All because it is impossible to make such big life decisions without anyone noticing...even if you never intended nor wanted to broadcast your goals to begin with.

As you all must know by now, I stress about things incessantly. I don't think these posts would exist otherwise. I really try to be "go with the flow", but I've learned for some aspects of my life it's near impossible. Sometimes I get caught up in the bullshit, and forget the bigger picture. It took me over half of this last semester to mentally and emotionally deal with group assignments in a productive manner without later raging to my husband about specific group members' ineptitude.

The irony is that my original teaching program was based on an education philosophy known as constructivism. This meant that much of how I initially learned to teach centered on students working together to build understanding and gain experience. I actually believe in this method, and am still a huge advocate for this type of learning. The concept, assuming it is implemented in a well thought out and reasonably plausible manner, can be effective; however, simply throwing a group of people together as a means to generate less "finished products" to grade overall is not actually doing the same thing. And it makes me a little bitter.

Think back to the person you were when you were just out of high school, and then into your twenties. What were you like? What was important to you? What about now? Are those same things still just as important? Would you say your goals and aspirations are different now versus that time of your life?

They sure as shit are for me. "Getting through" classes, especially when I first started at the community college was my only real goal. Often, paying for classes became more important than the actual classes. Sometimes I couldn't afford school so I'd work multiple jobs, and then sometimes I didn't have time for school because of the jobs. It was an exhausting cycle that did not in any way contribute to nor facilitate my desire to fully participate in my education.

I can't imagine my classmates now being any different than I was. I don't look back negatively at myself for lacking drive or focus at that point in my life, because spreading one's wings as it were and learning about yourself is beyond essential to our growth as adults. I'm just not in that same stage anymore. Having to work with students who are, is really fucking annoying. I honestly wish I felt differently, but I don't.

The thing is I got all caught up in this group work hoopla, because from my perspective I made a really big decision to change careers. I want to be the kind of student I wasn't capable of being when I was their age. I'm really interested in my program and most of my classes. I just want to do my best because I feel like I'm getting a second chance. I am living the dream, but sometimes it feels more like I'm straddling a crevasse attempting to escape some natural disaster.

A couple weeks ago I was talking with a friend describing this past year. I was trying to explain how the hardest part for Tyler and I adapting to our new situations is our lack of income. We went from basically being able to do whatever we've ever wanted (within reason of course) to simply not being able to. We're not broke. Don't pity us. Actually, even with neither of us working we don't qualify for food stamps (I checked). We've simply had to make some changes to our lifestyle. That's all. Merely a temporary inconvenience.

But as I was telling my friend how it was ridiculous that we both made the decision to go back to school at the same time, using the same wording I'd used before with other people, she simply said, "but at least you're going through it together".

She's smart; and she's absolutely right. Never once had I imagined our joint life-changing decisions other than a struggle in regards to our timing. At this point though, I can't imagine this experience any other way. If he were working and I was in school or vice versa, there's no way he'd have had the patience to ask what was going on every single time I got some lame excuse in a text from some group member. School can occupy all times of day and with both of us doing it, it enables us to work around each others' schedules way easier than if one of us were working a normal schedule. It's actually really, really convenient.

We're lucky to be doing what we're doing. We're beyond fortunate, and I'm newly glad we're riding out this storm together. I kind of can't believe we've finished one year already.


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