Could it really be worth it?
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Recently while looking through some old files, I came across something I published in the Fall 2015 issue of The Chieftain (the student-led newspaper for Black Hawk College) about valuing ones’ self as more than “just-a.” This brief article talked about avoiding the phrase “I’m just-a…” and was geared toward helping community college students recognize their education as being just as valuable as that of students at other colleges or universities. There was a negative and unfortunate connotation attached to students who attended community college instead of, or prior to, attending a university. When I opted to print this article titled “More Than Just-A,” I wanted incoming Black Hawk College students to recognize their worth as being equal to that of their peers who were attending other colleges or universities.
Now I would like to share this idea with those who have either never finished a desired degree program, or those who never had the opportunity or means to even consider attending college. This is also for those who feel stuck in a job or career that is not fulfilling. No matter what stage of life you are in, you are more than just-a….! Perhaps you always wanted to attend college but thought it wasn’t for you. As a result, you might have found employment in a field that may or may not be something you are passionate about. You may even be thinking about going to college or starting a new career but talk yourself out of it thinking that it’s too late to change direction in life. Trust me, it’s not too late! I repeat, it’s not too late to go after your dreams, no matter what your dreams may be or what age you are.
Not long ago I had some friends encourage me to write about why I felt it was worth it to attend college and pursue a degree more than twenty years after graduating from high school. While I’ve written a couple of times (Or am I Dreaming and Hindsight is 20/20) about my college experience, I’ve never solely focused on why or how I concluded that earning a degree, for me, was worth it. Honestly, I used to worry about the fact that I would be approaching 50 by the time I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree. Could it really be worth it at this stage in my life?
While discussing my hesitations with my best friend, Becky, she told me, matter-of-factly, “So, then you’ll be 50 years old with a bachelor’s degree instead of 50 years old without a degree.” It seemed so obvious then, and I had no rebuttal, so I went for it. Now I can proudly say that I’ve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing on the Publishing Track with honors. I’ve also earned a graduate-level certificate in publishing from the Denver Publishing Institute.
It’s a thrill to be able to pursue a career in the publishing field as a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer. I’m still working on building the coveted and all-important “experience portfolio” that employers and clients look for in their editors, but I’m doing it. The road up to this point hasn’t been easy. But along the way, I learned that I was more than just-a mom or just-a student or just-a secretary. I learned that it’s been worth the hard work to press toward the thing that scared me the most – changing directions in life.
To paraphrase a quote from Runaway Bride, I guarantee there will be tough times. I guarantee that at some point you will want to quit. But I also guarantee that if you don’t try, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Cause I know, in my heart, it’s worth it to go for your dreams!