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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Learning My Worth

I have always been a multifaceted person with a wide variety of interests. And while I can become obsessively interested in one subject to the exclusion of all else, my attention span usually isn't long enough for that to be too big of a problem. My biggest problem is that there will never be enough hours in my lifetime to learn all that I would like to know. One of my Professors in college once remarked that he had never had another student who took as wide a variety of classes as I did, but that he somehow knew that someday I would put them all together and do something really interesting with them in my life. That's kind of what I am hoping “Mother” and this blog will do, is allow me to bring my vast collection of knowledge and understanding out into the world so that someone can benefit from it

My college transcripts do probably resemble that of a person with a multiple personality disorder, but that's just me. My two main focuses of interest were geology and psychology, but I took every single class they would let me into. From Sociology to Physics, from English to Mathematics, from Environmental Science to Forestry and from Women's Studies to Business, I took classes from pretty much every department on campus, and I did well in all of them because I was having so much damn fun learning. I made friends with nearly all of my instructors, and those who were extremely unfriendly to everyone, ended up at least respecting me by the end of the term.

I think that may have been the biggest high that I got from college now that I really think about it. The respect and commendations I received from my college instructors were probably among the most important gifts I have ever received in my life. Here were real, respectable, intelligent, highly thought of people and they were telling ME that I was smart and worthwhile and even enjoyable! I don't know if I can even begin to express what an impact that had on my psyche. I had never experienced anything remotely like that. The acceptance and encouragement they gave me, both academically and personally, completely altered my world view from one of complete darkness and despair, to one of hope and happiness.

They saved my life as much as they changed it. I don't know if any of them really understand what a difference they made, but I know I would not be where I am today if it had not been for their influences at that time, and I don't even want to contemplate where I would be if it had not been for all of them. And it really was the collective acceptance and encouragement that made the biggest difference I think. I keep trying to decide which individual teacher had the biggest impact, and while some do stand out, and there probably is one in particular who truly did the most for me, it was the across the board acceptance from virtually all of them that really helped alter my view of myself.

I was lucky, I went to a small Community College, I think the biggest class I was ever in had maybe 50 students the first day of class, maybe 42 by the end of the first week. Most of the teachers had two or three classes a day, so they had more time to devote to individual students than teachers elsewhere might have had. And I really think that most of them really wanted to teach, to help other people learn. They certainly weren't in it for the money, most of them made 30 grand a year if they were lucky. Some of them were busier than others, but I never remember a time when I asked a teacher for a moment of their time and had them turn me away or even make me feel as if I was imposing.

It really was life altering. Here I was, this timid little doormat who had always been belittled and put down whenever I tried to express my thoughts to someone, and these “important” people were suddenly treating me like a valuable member of society. I was still the same crazy hippie I had always been, but suddenly it was not only acceptable, it was celebrated! It took a while, but I finally started to see myself though their eyes instead of the eyes of my “loved ones” I understood that there was absolutely nothing wrong with who I was or what I wanted from my life.

I mentioned before I think that I have wanted to be a writer for a very long time. I quit writing for a very long time, and put that dream away as childish fantasy that would forever be beyond my reach. But my entire college “career” was really devoted to that dream, even though I couldn't have acknowledged it at the time, I can see it now. Every class I took strengthened and expanded my knowledge base for a future of writing. I never saw the point of a degree in creative writing, I know they exist, but it always seemed kind of silly to me. My first creative writing teacher in High School taught me to write from what you know. Well, it seems to me that if I want to write I need to know stuff. That was far more important to me than the technicalities of writing, or someone else's opinion of what makes “good” writing. I know it probably would have been helpful if I had learned the correct usage of a comma, as I do know that I use them incorrectly, but I like commas and I will continue to use them when I thin I want to, even if it does not always fit with convention.

So today, with the help of the internet, a small but growing (hopefully) reader base (that is you!), and a wonderfully supportive husband who indulges me in every possible way, I hope I am beginning to find a way to live up to the expectations of that professor so many years ago. I hope I can find my voice and my audience and that someday I can actually make a living with my words. But whether I do or I don't ever make a dime, it is so nice to finally feel worthy of being heard.

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