In the song "this is me trying" by Taylor Swift, there's a line that says, "I was so ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere, fell behind all my classmates and I ended up here," that hits me every single time I listen to the song.
When I originally started college in the fall of 2017, I was projected to graduate in the spring of 2021. I had even planned to graduate a little early, so I took winter break and summer break classes, to get ahead of the game...ahead of the curve, you could say. I was doing good, I was on track to graduate early. I was ahead of most of my graduating high school class.
As it always does, life changed for me. My spring 2018 semester was difficult and I got my first F ever in a class, which happened to be worth 5 credits. I also decided to transfer to a different school for the next school year. I made up the five credits I lost over that summer, but what happened that fall is one of the biggest setbacks I've had in my college career.
I was excited to be at a new school, in Air Force ROTC, and living in my own apartment. Quickly, issues arose in AFROTC, I wasn't making it to classes, teachers in my large classes (250+ people) weren't helping or even responding to emails, and I was going in circles...or in a sphere you could say.
My depression worsened with the fear of being disqualified from Air Force ROTC, stresses from my living situation arose, relationship problems happened, my parents getting divorced contributed as well. By the last week of the semester, I had Fs in most of my classes, except my Air Force ones. I was also informed I had failed a medical portion of the Air Force screening and was technically listed as medically disqualified. There was the potential to get a waiver in order to stay on track to become an officer in the Air Force, but with my grades the way they were, I knew there was only one option. I had to withdraw from all of my classes that last week. I had completely given up on myself.
After things didn't work out that semester, I felt as if I needed a smaller school again; the one I was at was just too big and teachers couldn't give me the help and attention I needed like they were able to at my first school. I decided to transfer to a different school...again. During the end of the fall semester, I had actually started dating the man that would later become my husband. Long story short, I got pregnant and had horrible morning sickness, so the new school I was supposed to start at I had never actually gone to a single class at. I was registered, had housing, but just couldn't make it to class. That's when the second biggest setback took place.
I withdrew, again, from all of those classes. I had officially fallen behind all of my classmates from high school. I felt ashamed, disappointed, and even embarrassed. But at that point, I had different priorities. I moved in with my husband in a city an hour and a half away, I focused on trying to take care of myself while pregnant, and prepared to have my kid.
I always talked about starting classes in my new city, but never really got around to it. Then we got the news we were moving to Hawaii, out of all places. I wanted to start school again, but the fact I was having horrible semesters concurrently, I felt extremely discouraged. I didn't even know what major I wanted to do anymore, in fact at that point it had changed 3 times already. I felt like I had no purpose in my life and as if my dream of getting a college degree may never be realistic. It was hard because I dreamed of going to college since I was 10, and I was stuck in a place where I was convinced I could never be successful going to college.
Then my son was born.
Having him changed my whole entire perspective on life. Yes, my husband being in the military is a great safety net and there's always a guarantee in income as long as he is in the service, but some questions arose with that. What if he gets hurt and can no longer be in the military? What if he gets out earlier than expected in general? He doesn't have a college degree and it's hard to transfer what he does in the Army to a normal civilian job. It would be extremely hard for us to have a good income and give our son a good life.
A little 6 pound, 15 ounce baby boy is what finally brought back that motivation to get my college degree. I write this as I am near the end of my first full semester back at school, and I have done a lot better this semester than I have done since my very first college semester. I am on track to graduate in the fall of 2022, possibly earlier.
It's hard though. It's hard to know I'm not graduating this spring like I was supposed to. It's hard seeing people I graduated high school with post pictures in their graduation robes, and I know it'll be even harder in the spring when the majority of them will be graduating. It will swarm my social media feeds, and I'll still be stuck with another year and a half to go.
I feel ashamed of myself often. I feel like a failure sometimes. But I know that I WILL get my degree, and it won't just be for myself anymore. It'll be for myself AND for my amazing son. It will be worth the wait.