Daily Prompt Reply: Exhale

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Today’s prompt hits me very close to home. I’m not going to be one of these bloggers that reminisce and such, so I’ll keep it as subjective as possible. Hey, maybe my experience may even help one of you out there. I can only hope…

I’ve always been a very intelligent person, and proud at that. As if you hadn’t already realized this by reading my other posts. Throughout my entire life in school all the way through high school, I had never even come close to failing a class, much less a grade. Even though I rarely made the honor roll, it was more from a lack of motivation. Whenever I tested, I tested higher than anyone else in the school, even those on the honor roll. During classes, I grasped an entire chapter from the textbook on the first day of a week-long lesson. My teachers actually got angry at me for NOT letting people cheat off of me. This may seem like me just bragging and talking about how great I am, but I’m not. I’m setting the stage for what comes next.

After I finished high school, I went to college, which is the natural course. However, I didn’t feel comfortable about it. This is a normal thing among college students. Most freshly-graduated, high school students see college as a daunting task lined with hurdles to leap over. Why wouldn’t they? All through high school, at least at the schools that I went to, we were told that college was a cut-throat place where if you didn’t flail in an attempt to swim, you would sink like a stone. While I didn’t believe all of that, I saw that I was always having to be pushed to get the small amount of homework that I did get done in the past. As I said, I wasn’t motivated. I could listen in school, never study, and still ace the test. I knew that no matter the work load, without my parents breathing down the back of my neck anymore, I was going to have issues. My father was willing to listen to these worries, but my mother wouldn’t hear it. I wanted to take a year to get my head straight, but I had $13,000 in scholarships. It’s not the most that I could have gotten, but it’s a pretty impressive amount. My mother was sure that if I didn’t take the opportunity right then, the scholarships would go away, and they might have. I couldn’t argue after that. All my life, I was told that my scholarships had to pay for college because my parents wouldn’t. Not that they couldn’t, but they wouldn’t. So I went.

When I got to college, things seemed alright. The classes were fast-paced enough to keep me involved, the people, though new and strange to me, were friendly and fun, and I was experiencing new things. I got lost in this newness partially. When the work started coming, I would do some, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. The first few assignments I didn’t even do because I couldn’t figure out the website that told us what our homework was. Essays were a nightly thing. Each class demanded a 3-page essay every time you went to class on most days. I don’t know if this is different than other college experiences, but that’s what I got. I am a very quick writer. I could write a 3-page paper that I was interested in in 15 minutes. The issue was that they had us write about these things multiple times, or they would have us write on trivial things. I lost interest, didn’t turn in a few, turned in others late. I thought my test scores would lift the slack like they always did. After a few tests, I looked at my grade. The color drained from my face when I saw the 43% on the screen. Apparently the work and the tests were weighted much differently at this college  than they were at my high school. I spoke with my teachers, and they explained that tests were quite inconsequential there. They were only there as a sort of formality or way to see what they needed to teach more of. I began not only trying to finish every project on my plate, but also everything that I had missed. Sadly, I was barely able to keep up with what I had, much less what I had let slip by. I would miss a class here so that I could finish this paper, and miss a class there so that I could finish that diorama. Eventually the teachers started looking at me sideways, as though I was the student that they didn’t want to see. I would miss a class and think, “I can’t face them after that.” A string of absences started to pull together that I could never recover from. Occasionally I would go to class to just do a test when I hadn’t been in for two weeks. I would ace the test, much to the professor’s astonishment. Then I would go back to my dorm room, and no one would see me for days. My mother lost her job. My dad fell on hard times. Now, even if I pulled things together in the second semester, I would lose enough financial aid that I couldn’t afford to stay. I became so guilty that I began to starve myself. I just wasn’t hungry. The pain of guilt that I felt overcame any hunger pain that I might have noticed. Finally, I had to tell my parents what I had been doing for the whole year, and that out of somewhere around 9 or 10 classes, I had passed two of them by the skin of my teeth. My father practically renounced me, and my mother clearly told me that she gave up on me as a person. I had nothing.

It was at the bottom of this seemingly bottomless pit that I took a breath. What could I do? I couldn’t salvage my classes. I couldn’t go back and changes what I did. I couldn’t talk or reason my way out of it. I couldn’t even manipulate people into it. What was I supposed to do? For once in my entire life, I couldn’t look to the past, and I couldn’t tactically weasel my way out of it. I was forced to look to the future. What could I do? I could move in with my father since my mother wouldn’t speak to me, much less see me or live with me  again. I could get a job to save up for community college, an idea that I loathed during high school. After I completed my required classes, I would have enough savings and aid to transfer to a good university. For once, I felt like I was in control of my own future, and my own decisions. I was calm, and I could see the light at the top of this pit, the echelon that I held myself to before college. I’m still working to get there, but I can see the light.

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