My husband once shared with me a saying his grandfather used that rings true so often: "When you just assume something, you make an ass out of u and me." That little saying popped in my head yesterday while visiting a college campus.
I previously attended one year of school at a university here in Tennessee and decided that I had burned out from pushing myself for years, and I needed a break. This was a conscious decision, made with the purpose of allowing myself more time to become an adult and learn more about myself and what I really wanted to before I wasted any more money. Being prudent, I didn't want to become my own version of Van Wilder (movie character) and waste time or resources. So I joined the workforce and learned a lot of social skills from retail, as well as how to budget my paychecks, pay rent, make the most out of $40 worth of groceries, and grow as a human being. During this time of working in the public, I met my (future) husband and we started dating. After a few months of dating we moved in together and were engaged and that's when I started learning what adulthood was about. We were married in 2007 and these last five years have been the best of my life, although the most challenging...it's not easy learning that kind of responsibility in such a short time!
Education and learning in general have always been very important to me, so to me it was a matter of being responsible with the time I had to be young- you only get to experience your early 20s once- that drove me to put off earning my degree. If I had continued my schooling I would never have met my husband (he was a customer at the store I worked at), I wouldn't have gotten an office job, and most importantly, the two most wonderful little girls in the world (sorry, biased!) wouldn't be in my life. How can one regret a decision that led to the best thing that ever happened to them? This is my feeling on how my life has progressed the last eight years and I'm content with all of it. So why do so many people seem to assume that I have some sort of guilt, shame, or regret about not finishing school? The last few years, it seems like every time I'm asked about my educational background and plans for the future, I'm given this face resembling either pity, displeasure, or both. Here's my question when I get this reaction: Why do people seem to assume that I am some irresponsible kid, just because I didn't finish school at the same time as everyone else? The way I see it, you have your whole life to finish your schooling, but your early 20s only come once and in my opinion are truly the time when you lay the foundation for the rest of your life. That's when most people really come into what kind of person they want to be, how they want to live their life, and decide what partner they choose to spend it with.
All of this struck me when the lady at the front desk of the student center decided to make small talk...bad decision. After completing the math placement test I was walking through the lobby and she said "How did it go?". It was a simple question with a simple response, "There's nothing like looking at something for the first time in ten years to make you realize how much you've forgotten...I'm feeling a little dumb about my math skills. Good thing I won't really need them for my major." This is when I received the displeasure face and her response (with an air of superiority), "Well, at least you're trying to get your life together and work toward something meaningful and you can learn math this time". For those who know me well, I'm sure you've witnessed the fact that when a thought comes into my head, it immediately shows on my face, no matter how hard I try to hide it...a good reason to not play poker. This lady found out the hard way (the easy way being when a nice or humorous thought pops in) because gauging by her reaction, I must have given her the stink eye. Really? 'Get my life together', 'Work toward something meaningful', 'Learn math'? There are so many things wrong with what she said it's ridiculous. I am a grown woman with a husband and children, a household to run, health insurance, a strong sense of self, and absolutely no police record. How can this be construed as not having my life together? The last time I checked, working toward something meaningful is different for each individual, depending on what they find meaningful in their life. My life has plenty of meaning and I'm content with it. As for the math, although my history with math teachers was piss poor until way too late, I actually did learn it at one point. Anger was the first thing I felt at that woman for making such wild assumptions about me and right as I started to say something terse, I remembered the old saying. The lady made a wholly untrue assumption about me and while she may have made an ass of herself, I wasn't going to let her make one of me, so I just walked off as she tried to disperse the tension with a high-pitched giggle and a little joke. Maybe more people should become aware of the old saying, it might benefit them toward learning a little bit of tact. Tact being something that no amount of schooling can teach you- only living your life and working with others can teach that skill.