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When I Graduate From The School Of Life by Colleen Lindstrom

Education has always been important to me. I should rephrase that. Education has always been a value held by my family, I didn’t truly see the value of it for myself until college. That was when I finally realized how interesting school could be when it wasn’t all standardized tests, grades, and frankly quite boring subjects (mostly), it was like something clicked for me when I found myself studying what I wanted to study. Studying with a purpose, the things I was interested in. I had a direction and a goal (though not quite crystal clear, and truth be told, it is quite different from the reality that I have ended up living), and the road there was actually fun because I cared about what I was learning. Up until this time of my life, I had felt stupid. I had felt like I couldn’t get this “learning” thing down, and suddenly I was on the Dean’s List and the President’s List, and any other list that the “smart people” were on. That is when education became important to me. When I became a key player.

The passion that was ignited in me when I had that kind of control of my education was undeniable. Like an addiction, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to get enough.  While “summer school” in elementary school was used as an incentive for above average or a threat for severely below average students, when I got to college, a summer program was pure delight.  I even went to Boston one summer to study, and left wishing I could stay longer to STUDY.  When I graduated from College with a double major in Dance and Communications and double minor in Japanese and Women’s Studies, I had every intention of going back to school.  I thought I’d take a year off, “do the adult thing,” and then start the search for more school.  My voracious appetite for education was alive and well.

While my intentions were still there, life started happening without my consent. I met and fell in love with the man who eventually proposed to me. We got married. We bought a house together. We had a baby, lost that baby, lost another baby, had another baby, lost another baby, had two babies (at the same time), and all the while, like a fire in my heart, the embers have burned for more education.  The lyrics in the chorus of my life, “ maybe later… maybe later…” coda repeat. Each time a chapter wrapped up, another started, and none of them involved school as previously planned.  Hope is not lost, though…

In these particular days, my moment to moment is consumed with rearing my living children and working a little freelance and part time at my radio job. I love it. I love it all. And still, I see my friends with their graduate degrees. I see some making it work with their full-time jobs and their families, and I think, why not me? Could I do it? And yet, the time commitments of raising children, and the financial constraints of this lifestyle, coupled with the plain simple reality that school is hard make it a tough decision. Even though it is most enjoyable, it is hard – and I may not be up to it. Not to mention, the question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” is still unanswered, or rather, is ever changing.

I have come to this place: Now is not my time. I may have another time, but it is not now. However, I am firm in this: life creates it’s own opportunities for learning. Life provides them daily, sometimes many times in one day. So while I cannot crack a new textbook, or gripe about my professor’s over-use of “um,” and I’m not doing the freshman walk on any campus, I am definitely still flexing the muscle. Every time I need to try a new life strategy or approach a problem in a new diplomatic way, I flex the muscle. Every time I have a deadline, I am flexing the muscle. Every time I find myself in a new situation, I flex the muscle. So, “school” can wait, and I’ll be content with the school of life, for now.

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