End of One, Beginning of Another

Month one of school is officially over for me today. Four weeks of adjustments and learning and changes in environments and new friends. I hate to say that things will now be steady because things never are. Life is like that (and it’s weird to listen to people trying to sell another product).

The weeks have been an unsteady rhythm of ups and downs. This has not just been related to my PTSD, but most likely the start of school. I mentioned it to a friend in my Art History class and she said she was the same…and this is her second year. It’s a college thing, apparently. I guess that means I’ll live.

I had my first quiz and my first class presentation the second week of school. I felt certain I bombed both but I got a C on my quiz and a perfect score on my presentation. The C was the most troubling because it was in Algebra. If I can’t do the math, I would have to reconsider my major. This week I had another quiz in Algebra and I aced it. It was probably just first test jitters, but it was hard because that had never happened to me before.

I’ve had to make other adjustments as well. Things at school aren’t exactly like a lot of what I read before starting. I don’t know if that’s because the people I read had attended University and I’m at Community College, and a satellite campus at that. Whichever reason, there were a lot of things I wasn’t expecting. They haven’t really been bad things, just ways I have to realign my thinking.

I had planned to have a job by the beginning of September, but as the first and second week of school passed by, I knew I couldn’t do that. I had expected a week of adjustment but I ended up needing a full month. This might have to do with the rest of life going on and not simply stopping for me to adjust to the new school schedule.

Braniac had to stay home with hives my first day of school. He also wasn’t on the bus yet and that took three weeks to sort out. There have been other things, bikes with flat tires, bizarre August downpours, and a partial solar eclipse. We’re all still breathing, though, so it looks like we’ll live.

How it feels is difficult to explain. It’s strange to be in learning mode but a structured one. I don’t just pick up a book and read it, I don’t just decide on a topic and research it. That’s been my learning mode for decades. Now my thoughts on a topic are limited to three to five pages with a thesis I have to reference back to. There are rabbits to chase, but those have to be ignored for the time being. Maybe once I get a handle on whatever balance is required to pull this off I can chase them again.

However, the feeling is better. It’s not an obsession with learning (which is a horrible description but the best I can come up with) it’s steady and methodical and, mostly, calming. I say “mostly” because, well, tests. I feel different, yet I am the same person.

I think the best part is being around people who want to learn. Yes, there are some people I’ve met who don’t seem too interested, but mostly people are in my classes for the same reason I am. It’s nice to have someone with whom to discuss the things we are learning.

It’s also just nice to have someone else do part of the work. That would be the teacher, btw. I know, we students like to think we do all the work, but having been an autodidact most of my life I can assure you that the teacher is doing so much of my work for the class. Yes, I have to read and study, but they have to give me the background, and it makes learning these things easier and quicker.

In two weeks I’ll be 48 years old. I’m still surprised at myself. This is nothing I ever expected to do. Two years ago I had only recently left my ex and I was sitting in a therapy session discussing this very thing. I thought surely I never could do this. I was still convinced by all the people who’d held sway over me in my life that I was too stupid, that I had too many children, that school was a waste of time and I just had to get a job. Those people are nowhere around now, they are pathetic, worthless relics of the past, and their voices have nearly been silenced.

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