I’ve mentioned before that high school wasn’t exactly the highlight of my life.
And growing up in a small town no one has ever heard of was enough of an encouragement to do anything and everything that I could to leave my high school memories behind and make something of myself.
I never wanted to live in that small town. Never wanted to raise my kids in a place where getting out and doing more was a struggle or was looked down upon.
So, all throughout high school, I worked my butt off to make the grades. Studied like a crazy person to make sure that my grades were as good as they could be so that I could get a scholarship and go to college. Go to college far, far away if I wanted. I grew up in a one-income family and I always knew that there was no way my parents could pay for me to go to college.
There wasn’t a week that went by during my teen years when I didn’t hear something along the lines of: If you think you want to go to college, you better study so you can get a scholarship. Because we can’t afford to send you.
There was no shame in that. My dad worked hard to allow my mom to do what she wanted to do: be a mom. And they always encouraged me to go after whatever dreams I had—whether it was to become a business woman or just be a mom.
My Senior Year came and went and I ended up graduating 6th in my class with a 4.0 GPA. I was granted three scholarships and enough money in Government Pell Grants to fully pay for my school each year, and have enough cash left over to fully cover the expense of living in a Private Apartment just of campus with three of my girlfriends.
I had my chance. I was out. I had left my little small town and made it to college.
And I screwed it up.
The parties, the boys, the sorority responsibilities, the influence of people who didn’t have the same ambitions that I did…
It all led me to make some pretty stupid decisions and lose every. single. bit. of the scholarship money I had once worked so hard to earn.
The first semester wasn’t that bad. I took 17 hours worth of classes, including two Honors Classes (English Composition and History) and ended up with a 3.5 GPA.
Not bad for a Freshman who was juggling a part time after school waitressing job, way too many classes, Sorority Responsibilities (which, included meetings on Mondays, three hours of study hall on Tuesday and Wednesday, Socials and/or Swaps on Thursdays, and usually a frat party to appear at on Friday or Saturday) and working 6 hours a week for the Universities Newspaper.
But the second semester was a disaster. I spent more time in the bar and the frat house than I Did in the classroom. I “earned” two F’s, a D and two C’s that semester. Bringing my GPA to a whopping 1.8.
The letters of scholarship probation came.
And eventually, I lost all of it. Lost the funds. Lost the chance to get away and ended up moving back home with my parents.
My life took another turn and I’ve ended up much farther away than I initially imagined (um. Hello? Alaska?!) But it took me a long time to get over the guilt and the disappointment I had in myself for those mistakes. It took a lot of self-examination and forgiveness. It took the love of my husband and his support…pushing me to believe that I could still accomplish whatever I want, despite my past mistakes.
After all of that…after all of the mistakes I’ve made…I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at right now.
And no college degree could change that.
*Sharing this with Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop today!