I often hear from people “Erica I do not know how you did it, how did you run a business, go to grad school and take care of four children? The answer is simple. I was out to prove something.
I grew up in Ohio and attended a Christian school my whole life. I struggled, really struggled. If you asked my teachers, no one would accuse me of being the sharpest knife in the drawer. Academics and learning did not come easy for me. In 5th grade, I had to attend tutoring the entire summer to move on to the 6th grade. My sophomore year of high school I failed Geometry. My teacher worked with me every study hall and he came to a conclusion “You are never going to get it, so I am going to pass you along.”
You are never going to get it were words that I heard from that point on every time I tried to do something.
I was super excited to graduate from high school and had no intention of EVER attending college, yet I did. I struggled through my first two years of college and was excited to meet my husband and get married. He saved me from what I perceived to be more failure. The next nine years, I worked hard but Joe and I continued to struggle financially. I watched my husband work 3-4 jobs while I took care of our children at home. While I cared for the girls, Joe was working and pursuing a master’s degree. He was working so hard for our family. One day, I received news that rocked my world and changed my life.
One spring day I heard that an elementary friend passed away in a sudden car accident leaving behind his wife and four children. His wife was like me and had no college education. I began to wonder
How is she going to do it?
How will she support her four children?
At this moment I began to analyze my life. I had dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up yet I had no confidence in my ability to do them because I was not that smart. Heck, I was voted the second dumbest kid in my class during high school. I knew I could end up like my friend’s wife if I did not do something, so I decided to ask my husband about his thoughts of me trying college once more. He loved that idea and had honestly always seen something in me that I never saw in myself. In the fall of 2008, I enrolled at Strayer University to get my bachelors in business administration and continued from there to get a master’s degree in counseling that I just completed in December of 2016.
How did I do it?
I had something to prove. I had to prove to myself that I was smart, that I could make good grades and I could do this.
Quitting was not an option. No matter how hard it got, when I went back to school, I decided that giving up was not an option which taught me endurance.
I learned to endure. I learned that anything in life that was worth something was hard and was worth the fight. I wrote papers while caring for sick children. I studied, did projects, and read countless hours while running my kids to sporting events, helping them study and caring for them while they were sick. No matter what life threw at me, I stayed focused on what I wanted. I wanted to succeed therefore being stress was not an option.
I practiced self-care. My husband might argue with me on this one.:) I would not allow myself to get overly stressed out about school. I planned ahead and realized that stress was not my friend. Being anxious or worked up would not get my school work finished but only work against what I wanted. Instead of being stressed or anxious I asked for help.
I learned to rely on others. Anyone who knows me knows that I am independent and strong willed. I hate asking others for help. I realized during this season of my life, if I were going to accomplish goals, I would have to rely on others for help. Becoming humble taught me that I could accomplish more.
I had to swallow my fears and pride. To accomplish my goals, I had to put fear aside. Fear had become my best friend for many years but every time he showed up, I would tell myself I was not afraid, and I could do this.
I had to focus on what wanted not on the discomfort at the moment. During my 7-year journey through higher education, I endured pregnancy sickness, giving birth, shingles, the flu, the stomach virus and the death of a family member. No matter how painful or hard life was, I continued to focus on what I wanted not the discomfort at the moment which caused me to learn things about myself I never knew.
I learned my learning style which changed everything. In high school, everything was done through lecturing and reading. In grad school, I learned that I was a kinesthetic learning. Once I realized I learned best using my hands, it changed everything.
By concentrating on these things I have now learned:
I can make good grades. I finished my undergrad with a 3.6 and made the Deans list. I finished grad school with a 3.0. So the girl who got a 0.6 GPA in 8th grade could make good grades.
I am not dumb. Going back to school increased my self-esteem because I proved to myself I am smart.
Failure is not final. I failed many times through middle and high school, but that was not the end of my story. I was able to try again and succeed.
Hard work pays off. I realized that through enduring hard work does pay off. Don’t let who you were in high school be the narrative of your whole life.
If you have a desire or a dream, go for it! Find a support network, believe in yourself and create a new story moving forward. YOU CAN DO IT!