Every time I fill in the section on a job application that asks for my education, I cringe. It kills me to admit that I have “some college”. (Actually, I have “some university”. An important distinction in Canada, though both are excellent providers of an education; they just mean different things.)
I am proud of my time in university. I got into the Florida State University School of Music against all odds and did really well. My grades were excellent in all of my classes and I loved learning about the technical side of music - the nuts and bolts of how it works. But I left - I didn’t finish.
After the end of my second year, something happened that brought my time there into perfect, somewhat agonizing clarity. I realized I was going down the wrong road. I was a Music Education major (voice principal) and I didn’t ( and still don’t) have a passion for the artistry of music, i.e., the non-technical side, and I made a terrible teacher.
I don’t say that lightly or without proof. I spent three years as a children’s choir director and it was torture for me. The ages of the children was approximately 5-8 years of age. They were a pretty forgiving group of children, but I think at least a few of them realized I was a hopeless mess. They were kind and well-behaved through it all. I ran into one of them a few years ago at my brother’s wedding and she told me I was her favorite choir teacher. It made me feel good that I hadn’t been completely inept to all the kids, but another person - someone more capable - could have given them so much more.
Leaving music school may have seemed like an impulsive decision, but it really wasn’t. I think it was building up in me for the entire second year of the program. I got more and more overwhelmed with what was expected until the final straw came crashing down and I walked away without looking back.
Was that time wasted? Not in the least. I’ll always be glad I jumped in with both feet into something that I thought was my life dream. Unfortunately, I had no clue what to do when it was over. My ambition to be a lawyer from high school days was, by then, a distant memory. (And good riddance to that plan! No offence to any lawyers reading this.)
I thought about pursuing something to do with computers - I like technical things. But nothing I tried ever seemed right for me. I enjoyed learning HTML, how to use graphics programs, designing databases, but nothing ever stuck as the thing I wanted to do.
Over the years, I’ve learned as much as I could about computers and software and I’ve positioned myself as someone who can be depended on to improve processes and procedures. I’m intelligent, highly skilled and every time I have to prove myself, I exceed expectations (so I’m told).
And yet, I don’t have a degree. Nor do I know fully what I would study if I went back to school (though I finally have a pretty good idea). For now, I only know that it’s something I want to do one day. Very badly.
My dad once told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. That I don’t need a university education to do it (he knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor, lawyer or some other profession that relies on licensing and life or death know-how). While that’s true to a certain degree, I really enjoy school and learning. Yes, I can do it on my own, but I actually like the structure and interaction that comes with being in the classroom.
Now that I’m working full time and a parent as well, my opportunities to return to school will be limited so that I can spend ample time with my son in these very crucial years that only come once.
While I regret not taking more time to finish my education in the many years before my son’s appearance, I know I will get it done eventually - once I figure out what I want to be when I grow up. :)