I recently got asked what I want to be when I grow up. Short answer: I don’t know. Long answer: some people wake up as toddlers and know what they want to be and they make it their reality. Others, think they know and jump into that for a decade or two. Some like to jump around or stall (that’s me), and others never find the motivation to begin.
I enjoy procrastinating and making excuses. I did plenty of both in regards to going back to school. Maybe I had enough inner discipline to teach myself (how we learn most things – talking, eating, driving, etc.) or job applications tell me I need a bachelor’s degree or five years experience, so I went with the faster option – a two-year degree. Is it really a job I want to do, perhaps not, but it’s in the direction of what others seem to want for me…
I struggled with this decision, and I still do, but I’m currently enrolled in three classes. It took a lot of effort on Caleb’s part to get me there, and for that I’m grateful (even if I don’t express it enough). It’s a chance to get out of the house. Though I could be out getting paid at a job and gaining experience or squandering another opportunity, it’s easier to pay someone else to take up my time than to job hunt – at least it was for me at the time.
I’m beginning to see how sociologists label some people as Stability Seekers. We are willing to do the same thing every day because it works, even if we don’t completely agree with it because it’s a comfort zone. I’m happiest outside of that, brain and body, so I should strive to keep them there. Change might be slow, but it should be a definite part of my goals to achieve.
I signed up for Business Communications (how to email) and Business Law (haven’t started yet) and Sociology (the nature of human nature). Two classes relate to one degree and since the third class I needed wasn’t open for the short-term I signed up for another that ties into many fields. I was nervous about class on the first day. It had been five years since I’d sat in a classroom on a different coast going for a different degree.
My first class is on Monday and Wednesday nights and taught by a man raised in the 80s who wanted to major in history. We went around the class sharing something about ourselves. It’s an older crowd; people who have found their way back to school. The guy in front shook Obama’s hand and sits beside his son who graduated high school a year early and his daughter who’s got a year left.
The girl up front is someone I recognize from boot camp (12 years ago) and stayed in the Navy for 10 years before getting out, helping friends run a business, and then selling her portion. One guy has three high school diplomas from three countries. Another taught himself how to play piano, starting at age 6, because it was available in church. My statement would go along with the other uninteresting ones in the room, but I was impressed.
The attitude of the room is laid back and the professor wants lots of participation in conversation. I have to hold my tongue frequently to not overwhelm the meaning of the lesson and the few others when they speak up. I thought three hours at a time would be too much, but the time flies and the mid-class break affords us a moment to catch a glimpse of the debate being shown on the TV in the break corner at the end of the hall. My class is being taught at MCRD (the Marine Corps Recruit Depot) and is twenty minutes from home via highway.
I get spoiled by the first week of free parking for Sociology and drive around the City College campus for 20 minutes to find a $10 parking spot 15 minutes away. I would buy the parking pass, which I should have done online already, but I don’t want to be late to class. There are three rows of tables and the ones on the right are filling up with girls on the left. My night class is 2/3 women, but the majority of Business Comm. is guys. The professor engages with us while we wait the ten minutes for the official start time of the class.
This room feels different. The walls and floor are gray, as are the shades covering the window, so though I want to feel gloomy (remembering the happiness this color brought me in my childhood bedroom) there is a young woman upfront commanding my attention with her smile, accent, and outfit – only on Tuesdays. Something about me stands out and I will be the first name she learns, minus Paul, whom she already knows. It could be the fact too that I think I’m the only one in class with notes.
A girl in the corner discusses technology that’s been around for a decade as if it’s been around as long as math, and part of me thinks about how difficult this class could be for someone if they were unaware of these processes, now so simple to parts of society. I’m told to bring in a résumé for review and to prepare for a presentation at the end of the semester. I can feel my heart rate increase, but there’s also a sense of calmness. I knew this was coming and I’ve handled it before – and I asked for it.
The night class waits for the professor to dismiss us. This class makes a racket to shove their notebooks back into their bags to hurry off somewhere making the professor apologize (as they leave early). I suppose there’s an interesting factor in returning to school every couple of years, and taking a random class, to gain insight into the older teenage norms of what will soon be released into the real world. Most of them aren’t engaged in the class, and at least six were on their phones.
I gather my things and make my way to the accounting office to buy my $20/semester parking pass. Then I have to walk across campus to the police office, going through the cosmetology building (maybe not bad to paint hair and nails for a grade), to pick up my sticker. It’s a good thing I didn’t settle for the two-hour parking, as I’ve definitely gone over that limit. I head for home to get lunch before buying a $50 access code to my partially online class.
I look forward to the lessons learned in and out of the classroom. Caleb is doing physical therapy for his back (really hurt it on a diving trip), so he’s been taking the car to work (no riding bikes in the morning together) and is gone before I wake. I pack his lunch (when he doesn’t) and then we get to make dinner together before he goes to bed and I go back to reading. I’ve got a stack of books I started before class, the textbooks needed for class, a PDF version open in a tab, and recently stumbled on Kindle for Android – I’m addicted.