I am deathly afraid of cockroaches. Anything that can survive a nuclear holocaust, I have a problem with. You can step on spiders and run like heck from snakes but flying cockroaches? No thanks. I am also equally afraid of failing. I recently decided to go back to school. I was a 24 year old single mother with a drowning career so obviously adding more stress to my life was the best choice. The thing is, I found that I really enjoyed it. I started by taking a few classes to ease my way back into it and I found not only did I actually like it, I excelled at it. It feels really good to succeed in something that has previously knocked you down and laughed in your face.
Like so many other 18 year olds, I graduated from high school, packed everything up and made the big move to college. Right down the street. My entire life I had wanted to move away, to prove something but when push came to shove I took the easy way out and stayed in my comfort zone. Turns out that wasn’t the smartest idea because I got a little too comfortable. Now nearly 8 years later, I’m trying it again. As a side note, the college I went to, although beautifully historic, had a cockroach problem. Coincidence? I think not.
Classes have started again for this semester and sitting in the first row, I realize that I stick out like a sore thumb. I feel that I am practically screaming “I don’t belong here, I had my chance and I blew it!” Then I glance next to me at the woman easily twice my age sharpening her pencils in her pencil case and I swear she has a Trapper Keeper. I immediately feel better. I realize that what I am doing, what this woman is doing, is a very brave thing. We are venturing out into the unknown and not accepting anything less than our best. I decide to make her my ally, hoping that we can help each other along the way and forgiving the fact that she is wearing a Snuggie in public. At 8 am.
So now my nights are a balancing act between Candyland and Civics. Four year old math problems and E=MC something. Bedtime stories and English Lit. It’s exhausting and more often than not I feel guilty that Mommy can’t play that extra round of Candyland because she has to study. But I have faith that the sleepless nights and all the sacrifices that go along with being a Mommy and a student will pay off. That one day I will graduate and be able to look at my daughter and say: “Mommy did this for you. For us.”
It’s the night before the first test of the semester and I am scared to death to open my books and study. Maybe in my mind I can rationalize failing if I don’t try. What if I try and I still fail? It’s ok to make those mistakes when you’re 18 but when you’re 25 aren’t you supposed to understand life a little more? Were those years between the brick and mortar of college and in the school of life wasted? Or did I learn more than cheesy comparisons?
As I reread the words I have written, it is comforting to see my thoughts and fears in black and white. Seeing them makes it real, makes it something I can fight. I’ll still scream like a little girl at the sight of a cockroach but this, this fear of the unknown, I can grab hold of and wrangle to the ground because I have decided that this is a fear I will conquer. And who knows? Compared to college algebra, maybe cockroaches aren’t so scary after all.0