So I'm driving around in the car with my 13 year old and we're talking about all the random nonsense you talk about with your kids in the car; somehow we got on the subject of college, and he quite nonchalantly informs me that he isn't going to college, like ugh mom. I reach over to take his temperature, just to be sure he isn't delirious with The Fever, and then ask him oh, re-heally? This child looks at me and, with his mouth I spent nine months making for him, actually says, "Yeah, I'm just going to do what you did. You turned out fine."
He then had the honor and great privilege of being strapped into a moving vehicle he could not escape from while listening to his mother talk in very loud tones about exactly what is was that she did, and:
• how hard it was;
• how much cheap macaroni and cheese we ate for like ever while i was *doing it*;
• how many nights I was up until 4am working at a bar and back up at 8am with him and his brother;
• what it felt like to know I could do something really amazing with my life I just had no idea what it was or how to start;
• how long I had to wait and how hard I had to look for the opportunity to get out from behind a bar and into the workforce;
• how lucky I was that the opportunity ever came my way or that I had managed to piece together enough skills to take it when it did;
• and how much easier my life - his life - would have been if I had ever had the opportunity to further my education.
(...and yes, I said all of that without breathing, uphill, in the snow both ways, because that's what mothers do.)
Getting from where I started to where I am was exhausting. Where I am now is exhausting in a way that waiting tables never was; the mental walls I hit every day hurt so much more than my feet ever did, but the pain is so good. I love working in Silicon Valley. I love being an integral part of the virtual revolution. I love science and I love tech and even still, I would not wish the path I took to get here on my worst enemy, or even a teenager.
No one told me to pursue more (or any) education. I never had a parent, or a priest, or a mentor who said I had to go learn more stuff. I had teachers who said it, but I didn't listen because they're teachers...they HAVE to say that. My boyfriend jokes about and/or purposely hides his "useless" liberal arts Ivy League degree but being on the other side of it, I can see in ways he'll never understand how not-useless a degree is. Knowledge, training, education - they are more than tools, they are gifts we give to ourselves. That degree is a gateway to more than just a better job or a career path - it's the gateway to the self-confidence you'll need to go out and find your place in the big wide workplace.
I'm always going to be one step behind my colleagues -- always working that much harder to keep up, to grasp the concepts, to speak the language, to figure out what they know. Even if they don't know it, I will always know it. I want my children to know better. I want them to know every single little thing about that which inspires them. I want them to drive forward, not keep up. I want them to grasp concepts as much as they grasp tasks. I want them to think differently, bigger, broader, and deeper than I did. I want them to have the gift of instruction, of education, of knowing what is out there for them, beyond what they see everyday, more than what I can teach them.
This post was inspired and sponsored by Kaplan University.
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