November 8, 2010
This week, we have a story written Marcia Jeffers, from Truro, Nova Scotia. Marcia received an award during the Adult Learners Week in Nova Scotia in March 2009. She is part of the LINK-CCA Program, at NS Community College - Truro Campus.
My voice has this funny way of cracking whenever I discuss my educational background with people. Employers, co-workers - even an old friend from high school I hadn't seen for eight years, because she moved to Toronto to attend university. She had managed to snag the career of her dreams, not to mention a bright, shiny condo overlooking the CN Tower from the southside. Talking to her was especially difficult because her dream job was a lot like my dream job, only she had actually achieved hers. To say I was jealous is an understatement. And when she asked me which university I had attended, my voice mirrored that of a pubescent boy's. "Actually, I left high school early to work and never did get the chance to go back." I told her, and inside I felt the distinct shrivelling of my pride.
I'd always intended to go back to school and finish where I'd left off. But for some reason, although my marks didn't necessarily reflect this, I hated school. The things I hated about it are hard to describe, sort of like trying to explain how water tastes. I suppose I had invisible hang-ups which prevented me from really feeling engaged with school and its challenges. It's difficult to remember at this point why I decided to drop out. I do know that I've regretted that decision nearly every single day for ten years.
Ten years holds a lot of remorse, you know? A decade's worth of repentance and all I'd learned was to be embarrassed by my status as a high school drop out. I wish I hadn't felt that way, and that I'd given myself more credit. I'm a hardworking, loyal individual with a multitude of skills and stellar references. That's nothing to be ashamed of, and yet in my mind it wasn't good enough. I desperately wanted my life to change, and to be able to hold my head up high. I wanted to stop worrying if my voice would split down the middle when I spoke about my background. I knew it was time to make education my priority, and address this struggle taking place within myself. So I took a chance and called the NSCC for an appointment. For better or worse, I'd finally put an end to my shame. And what an end it was.
I have gained exactly ten years worth of confidence in a matter of months, and I find myself practically shouting at people that I am an honest-to-goodness college student. "That's right," I tell everyone within earshot. "I'm in college!" Finally I am doing something worthwhile, and working towards a career that will add richness and texture to my life. A sense of purpose that will shape my future into one I can be proud of. I'm convinced I will bring my hard work to full fruition, because I knew enough to know I needed more.
Oh, and my voice doesn't crack when I tell people how well I'm doing in school.
[This story was taken with permission, from Living and Learning for a Viable Future: The Power of Adult Learning, a collection of stories submitted to Literacy Nova Scotia for the Adult Learners' Week Contest in March 2009.]