It has finally happened – the milestone I’ve been dreading for at least five years – yesterday, I turned thirty years old. This number has been haunting me, has been following me around and whispering things about success and happiness into my subconscious for quite some time. I had just assumed that I would be settled into the lifestyle of my dreams by now. My twenties were an extension of my teens, time I was allowed to use to figure things out and make a few mistakes, but thirty??? Shouldn’t I own a small home in the suburbs now? Shouldn’t I at least have a career? I worked hard, paid my bills, enjoyed most of the people I worked with, I was doing it all right, but thirty kept creeping closer and telling me I was doomed to repeat the last decade if I didn’t make a change. I didn’t even go to my high school reunion for fear of having to explain my lackluster retail career to fellow classmates who are doctors now (actually) or who travel the world tasting exotic wines (I’m not even joking). The same feelings accompanied me on holidays, when I knew the onslaught of family questions about my life were coming and I had no real answers.
Having met with a friend last summer who was a recent Stenberg grad, I realized there was something I could do to change my path. Something I could do in as little as one year! The length of time between deciding to attend the Special Education Assistant program and actually being accepted seemed like an eternity when in fact, it was less than a month. This was perfect timing for my sister’s wedding, when I knew half of my gene pool would be under one roof and would just looove to ask me about my life. Finally, I had an answer I was proud of. I was going back to school!
The same sense of pride carried over to Christmas holidays this last month. With an entire week away from Stenberg, I was walking in to family dinners with months of stories to share. I actually started conversations about myself and where I’ve been heading lately with the most critical of aunts and uncles! I didn’t concentrate on where I’ve been or what jobs I’ve had; we talked about what I’ve learned and where it’s going to take me. It’s hard for people to relate to certain careers but everyone has children, or knows a few at least, and can relate to what it is I’m trying to learn. The pursuit of an education is so admirable that it almost didn’t matter what I told them I was taking, they were happy to talk about school in general and finally, I was happy to discuss myself with them.
Do you know what I did miss? After a week away, I missed school. Since my birthday is so early in the year, it has often fallen on the first day back to school – something that always seemed to spoil the magic. How am I supposed to be happy about my birthday when it’s usually the day I’m torn away from Christmas pajamas and new goodies, and thrown back into school? Not this year. Break was only ten days and I couldn’t have been happier to return to Stenberg. It felt like weeks since I had seen my classmates! Four months of the program has gone by so quickly but I already know I’m changing, and for the better. I was excited to come back after break! I am still excited to come each and every day – it may not be sunshine and roses all the time, but I’ll tell you this, a rough day at school is a million times more satisfying than a rough day in retail. And my family is much happier to hear me complain about assignment than coworkers 😉