I never thought that I would go to university, even though everyone always told me that I should go.
I didn’t think of myself as going to university type. I didn’t want to go into either ten thousands dollars of debt or thousands pounds of debt. Honestly, I never considered university was a plausible option for me.
Then six years ago, out of the blue and in a matter of weeks, I heard about the Open University and enrolled to do a course to gain extra credit on my high school diploma. I decided to do a BA instead, making it Open so I could study whatever I wanted. Over this six year period, I have studied social sciences, psychology, child psychology, creative writing, children’s literature, and working together for children modules.
I have done this degree with two or three other things on my plate. I continued on. I have been incredibly stressed and exhausted by this degree. I continued on. I have raged against the whole establishment of Open University and thought that doing this degree was a pointless and stupid blunder on my part. I continued on.
This has been my last year. I’ve enjoyed my module but this module has an exam. I have never taken an exam before- a pro and a con from my particular education experience.
(I did warn you in the title that I’ve had a weird education but I’ll get to that later).
So I was on a break from this blog to revise and prepare for this exam (just in case you were wondering where I had gone and why this blog has a sudden influx of amazing guest writers). I revised for hours after long 10-hour days at work. I made a planner and a hundred flashcards. I made my friends test and quiz me on different theories. I had worked really hard for this exam.
My exam was on Monday. I forgot my pencil case which meant I had to rush to a Ryman Stationary store to nervously buy pens from a super nice store clerk who wished me good luck. Despite that, I made it to my exam on time and I did my questions, relatively calm and peaceful, and then it was over.
I went to my car to drive home and I began to sob; because I realised that I failed the exam or at least scrapped by with the lowest pass on an exam that was worth my overall grade.
(Yup, I bet you weren’t expecting that little plot twist weren’t ya?).
What on earth lead me to this point? I reflect on my grandma, who is soft-spoken, who would buy me books and who used to grow lemon trees in her backyard, who told me how she went to university and how much she loved going there. I remember how she got quiet when I asked her when she graduated. I had forgotten that she didn’t because she married my grandfather instead. And yet, she was so proud of the experience she had that it always seemed like she did.
Speaking to her was the only few times I’ve ever wanted to go to university. In fact, I realise with a shock of clarity, she is quite possibly the main unconscious reason I suddenly decided to do a BA degree so many years ago. I wanted to imitate her kind nature, her sharp cleverness, and the wealth of her experience. I wanted to do what she always wanted to do. I wanted to be the first Brown girl to have graduated from university. Which is possibly why I freaked out at the end. I don’t want to fail.
Rachel, my beloved co-blogger, has teased this before in my bio, but just so we’re clear I was home-schooled my entire life. I learned how to read in my living room. I agonised over algebra in the kitchen. I devoured my immense literature-based curriculum on the couch or on my desk in my bedroom. I have had an unique education, which was filled with books, which emphasised critical and independent thought, and which helped open my eyes to the wider and multi-cultural world around me.
However, I also recognise that my education is somewhat weird. People are curious and find my past home-schooling life interesting but people also don’t know how to ascertain how educated I actually am. I have felt the need to defend the validity of my education to other people. I have felt like I need to work harder than most.
As I reflect on that, I realise with a shock of clarity of my own insecurities relating to my education. Suddenly I understand my own freak-out. I’m just another insecure human being scared of failure,
(Like who would have guessed that?).
Actually, this sense of realisation gives me hope, as I recognise all over again, thank God I’m not valued by the weight of doing this or that. My value is not wrapped up in my education or how smart people think I am. My identity is not just the ‘first Brown girl to gain an university qualification’ but is more than that.
Thank God that I am considered a child of God first and I have been given opportunities to finish what past women in my own life would have loved to have done. At the end, I am incredibly thankful and grateful for this journey that I have been on.
I am thankful for my array of brilliant, average, and then sometimes bad grades. I am content with my successes as well as my failures. I am grateful that my weird education journey as a nerdy home-schooler has also included an university degree.
Graduation is approaching sometime in the near future. My weird education journey is about to end for now, and despite all of the stress and disappointments, I am glad to have made it at all.