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Stupid Genius

When I was a kid, I was constantly told how smart I was and how one day I'm going to make it.  When I was 8 years old I was put into the G.A.T.E. (Gifted And Talented Education) program and had to attend a new school.  I was a little worried about what was going to be expected of me.  This was a tough school that pushed your mind to it's limits.  By the time I was in 5th grade I was already testing in most of my subjects above a 12th grade level.  My family was very proud of me, & I was often bragged about.  Most of the time I was a little embarrassed because my cousins would pick on me calling me a nerd and whatnot...but this was normal family rivalry.  We all out grew that stage and we are now all very supportive of each other.  As I went on to middle school & then high school I remained in honors classes.  But by the time I was half way through my high school career, I started to become burned out of school.  I started to slack, & not push myself as hard as I know I could have.  The funny thing is, most of my friends graduated at the very top of our class with high honors.  I was more in the "middle" top, but still graduated with the H.A. Spindt award for being an honor roll student for every semester of my high school career and earned a small scholarship.

Then came community college.  I was finally able to spread my wings and try out classes that I was actually interested in.  My goal was to become an engineer one day.  I started to fly through my engineering, math & science classes.  But then, all of a sudden I hit a bump in my road & I couldn't pass my physics class.  I tried & tried but I failed two times.  Because of this, I had to stop my engineering studies, because the rest of the classes had Physics as a prerequisite.  My friends I had made passed me up & continued on.  This was my first downfall.  I became fed up with community college and decided to just graduate with an A.A. in Liberal Arts, instead of my intended A.S. in Engineering.  I figured I would pick back up when I went to a university.

Well, that didn't seem to work out the way I had always dreamt.  I began to attend the local Cal State University and that's when I met the guy who I thought was "the one."  I was so burned out on school, I hadn't had a break from school since my summer between 7th & 8th grade, which was 8 years at this point!  And this guy did not go to school & kept me distracted from my goal I had since I was a kid.  I ended up dropping out of the University & didn't even finish one quarter.  Three years later my son is born.  6 months later my son & I move back home with my parents.  The relationship between "the one" and I begins to diminish & within 18 months we are done.  Yeah, there was a few rebounds with him, but none of them stuck.

So, now here I am today, 31 years old, a single mother, due to the economy I am currently unemployed, and I am still living with my parents.  I get so depressed when I think about what could have been if I would've just stayed on track.  I feel like I'm such a disappointment to my family.  I am constantly reminded of how I was suppose to be the brain child of our family that became a rocket scientist.  Yet, on my mom's side of the family, I am still the only granddaughter to have any type of degree.  But worst of all I feel like I am letting down my son.

I always imagined that by this age I would be married, living in my own house, have a great job, have at least my B.S., and have at least two kids.   But I'm no where near that dream.  I know I can still go back to school, & I'm actually going to go talk to a friend of mine who is a counselor at the same local University in two days & we're going to discuss my options.  I just get so frustrated because I think of all the knowledge I have lost over these past 8 years.  The last time I went to school, I was in Calculus 4...and I earned an A!!  Now, I look at my old math books and it's like reading a foreign language.  I know I have the power to succeed, I just need some help jump starting my engine.  And I believe the look in my son's eyes when he tells me he's going to build us a house in my parents backyard with some bricks & pieces of wood he found in my dad's garage is just the spark I need to get that engine kicking.  Ready or not...it's time to hit the books again!

*** Just a little update, since I've had such a huge and surprising response to this story. ***

Since I have written this story I have enrolled into our local Cal State University.  I begin my classes on January 4, 2010...and boy am I a tad bit nervous!  I really haven't had time to think about it too much, because the holidays definitely had my mind preoccupied these past few months.  But now that I've had time to relax, the anticipation and nerves are getting to me.  I have decided that I'm going to either try a Physics major or a Computer Science major.  And which ever one I choose I want to definitely have my minor in Spanish.  I know that some of you might think I'm a little off my rocker, seeing how earlier I mentioned my struggle in Physics.  But I know that then I didn't give my whole heart into trying to pass that class.  I know that now I am focused on obtaining my degree and I think Physics will be a challenge, but I know I can overcome it.  Plus, from what I heard, a Physics degree is pretty similar to an engineering degree and this CSU doesn't offer any engineering classes.  The alternate Comp Sci route is because I have always been fascinated with computers & I'm pretty quick at learning programs, systems & languages.  For my first quarter I'm just going to take some graduation requirement classes because I registered so late I wasn't able to see a counselor in time before they left on vacation.  Hopefully in a few years I will update again and let everyone know that I reached my goal!  So, everyone out there in EP land, wish me luck...I might just need it! ;-)

*** Another update written on Dec 21, 2010 ***

Even though this story is just about a year old, I am still receiving a huge response from it.  So, I decided I would give you a quick update.  I am happy to say that I successfully completed my first year at the University!!  Of course, it wasn't exactly easy...it took a little while for my brain to realize I was serious about continuing my education.  But, I stuck to it & I did it!  The biggest news is I FINALLY passed a physics class!!  This was my biggest obstacle in my road and it was a very, very tough challenge....but again, I did it!  Realizing how much of a struggle I had with this class I decided physics was definitely NOT the right major for me.  I have since declared myself a geology major.  I'm not sure as of yet which field of geology I would like to concentrate on....I'm thinking either petroleum geology or environmental geology....although my true desire would be planetary geology, but that would most likely require my son & I to move away from our town and family...and that is something I would never do to him.  But, I am very happy with the other two options that I'm contemplating and I really, really like geology....who would've knew???  So, with this update, I just wanted to thank each of you for all the words of encouragement, you have no idea how much they have helped me out on some of the roughest days (especially around midterm and finals time).  And to any of you out there that are thinking about going back to school, just go for it!!  If I can do it, anybody can!  I've been lucky thus far and have had some great professors that have been willing to help me out with all my questions and refreshing my memory from previous classes I had taken 10+ years ago!  Also, going back to school has also given me so much more self confidence in myself.  During my 1st quarter I was very shy, hardly spoke to anyone unless I had to, I felt very out of place and so much older than the other students.  But by this last quarter, I was in a study group for 2 out of 3 of my classes, I had made several friends, and I realized that there are a TON of other students my age and in similar situations as myself.....I wasn't as different as I thought I was.  I hope to give another update at the end of 2011 to let all of you know how close I am to graduating....and believe when I say that this time I'm sticking to my plan and I'm not stopping until I'm walking across the stage with my degree in hand!!!

*****And another update written on December 20, 2011****

Once again I am amazed at how many responses I have received on this particular story of mine.  And like I stated in my previous update, I wanted to make sure I continued to let you know how my pursuit of earning my degree is going.  I am happy to report that I have successfully finished another year at the university!  This year was pretty tough, but I stuck with it.  It was also extremely helpful that I have made many new friends within my major and we all help each other help when somebody is confused in the class or just needs that extra bit of encouragement.  Although, I have hit a small bump in my road.  As a geology major we are required to take a summer field camp class.  Our university does not offer this course, therefore in order to complete this requirement we have to enroll in the class at different university...most in other states, some are even in other countries!  Most of these courses are 4-6 weeks long.  My initial plan was to be able to walk across the stage in June and then leave to take my final class during the summer.  Well, it seems I accidentally missed one little general ed required class, and because my schedule is pretty much set with all the geology classes for the next two quarters I won't be able to take this class until after summer field camp.  Therefore, I won't be able to actually graduate until the end of the fall quarter, which should be almost exactly a year from now. :(  I was pretty bummed at first, because the majority of the friends I have made will be walking across the stage at the beginning of June and I thought I was going to be all by myself next December.  Also this one class was adding a whole extra quarter that I will have to attend school.  But, then I started to realize what's a few extra weeks when I have already waited 10+ years to graduate.  And also, it ended up that a few of my friends found out they are in similar situations and will be graduating in December 2012 as well.  So, hopefully a year from now when I am writing my next update I will be informing everyone that I have finally earned my degree!!!  One last thing, I want to again encourage anyone out there that is reading this story and contemplating going back to school.  I'm not going to sugar coat it and say that it was an easy path to take, because it definitely is not.  I had to sacrifice a ton of time with my son and miss out on a lot.  But I know that this small sacrifice is nothing compared to what I will end up achieving.  I am truly blessed with a wonderful family that has helped me and encouraged me every step of the way.  Without them, I may not have been able to accomplish as much as I have.  If any of you need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to send me a message on EP.  I know sometimes it's just a little bit of advice or an extra burst of encouragement that someone needs to get them back on the right path.  I'll always be here to give that to anyone that needs it.  For myself, I know that the next 2 quarters and my summer field camp are going to be extremely tough and time consuming, and that I'm going to have sacrifice even more time with my son (the last extra quarter should be much easier)....but I know that all of this work, effort, and time is worth it in the end.  I know this is the only way that I will be able to provide the life that my son and I deserve.  And nothing will make me happier than seeing the pride in my son's face as he watches me graduate.  Only one more year to go....I GOT THIS!!!

TheIdeaOfMe TheIdeaOfMe 31-35, F 60 Responses Oct 6, 2009

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This has brought tears of recognition and understanding to my eyes. I get where you have been. I am looking forward to these updates, as the future is yet to happen. The anticipation, as a third party observer, is palpable. Makes me want to find my niche too.

I ended up reading this because I was quetioning my ability to complete my PhD. While I realised that it didnt technically apply to my situation, I found this blog to be the most helpful of everything ive read this morning. I feel much, much better about things now, and this is because of what you wrote. Anyone whos scrutinising or questioning, or even outright doubting their ability and/or motivation will likely find their inspiration here. I now have a pile of papers and I WILL understand them. I dont know you, and I guess it sounds strange, but thanks a lot for this. You power on through, kick those *****, take those names! I think your son has the best of examples to learn from. I could have just said "You kick ***", but im a scientist and we show our working.

Owain the self-doubting neuroscientst.

Also, In my opinion our generation of women has a whole new set of problems than previous generations. We grew up hearing that we could be whatever we wanted and that we were equal to men. We were encouraged to live to our full potential and I think that's why we put so much pressure on ourselves to highly succeed. But then when we don't, we're extremely disappointed. We also want to be good mothers and good wives too. But we're not perfect. We are only one person dammit. At least I feel a lot of pressure to be a perfect student, a perfect mother, a perfect girlfriend, and a perfect employee. Maybe that's just me.

Oh I also wantd to mention that I always look back and wish I had made better choices but I've learned not to dwell on the past, I can't change it. I learned to just focus on the future bc that IS something I can control. Hope you're doing well can't wait for the next update! Warm wishes!

Wow. Reading your story is so inspiring. I too am finishing up my BA in Sociology, scheduled to graduate Dec 2012. I have a 3 year old daughter so I know exactly some of what you've gone through. I would love to chat with you more. Myself, I've been feeling really lonely, no one understands my situation. I think it'd be nice to chat with someone who understands me.

amazing story, keep up the good work! this is inspiring, it's never too late to start anew, life is full of obstacles for each and everyone of us, there is no "rule" or "book" that says you have to be this this and that at a certain point in life. i have finally came to the realization!

you got an A in calc 4! I barely passed with a B. I'm currently an engineering student at UC Davis, and I can attest that Calc 4 is tough. See there ya go, you're SMART! Don't worry. Get a calculus book, start reading 1 chapter a night. Do practice problems on spare time. I know spare time is hard to find, but you can create it. Go to a CCC make sure your GEs are done. Did you know that there are 40 year olds in some of my engineering classes? Believe me, people much older than you are still working on their degrees. Just go for it.

Wow. Really nice to read your updates. Keep going.

A very good friend of mine (45 years now) was a straight A student out of high school but had to drop out of college in his second year because he was failing so many classes. We worked at crap jobs for a couple of years then went to community college and got his grade point back up so that he could return to the university. he graduated and went on to law school. He has had a successful career and now has his own law firm.<br />
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The path isn't always straight or easy but you get out what you put in.<br />
Congratulations.

I realize that it's been a while since you wrote this, but it just came up on my feed, and wanted to say that I think it's great that you went back and are working towards it :) I found myself in a similar situation, and I have to say...going back and realizing how little it meant to some of those young kids really made me appreciate the time I took off...

I am very impressed with how smart you were considered. I was also in the Gifted and Talented program with my school but I didn't have to go to a special school for it. I probably couldn't survive in the program now but anyway. I'm sorry you're not, or were not when you wrote the story, where you want to be in life. I sincerely hope it has picked up for you.

I just want to start out by saying thanks for doing the updates. There are so many people in your same situation who think they've wasted too much time and don't know where to start and luckily they can read your progress and realize its not too late. <br />
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My mother waited very late to pursue anything, but now in her late 40s she just passed her nursing board exam last November after graduated with a nursing degree. <br />
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I as a young college student am use to being in classrooms that are 70% people 30 years old and above. These are new times we live in. It is never too late to go back and live your dream.<br />
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I hit a bump that has lasted 3 to 4 years now and have just started taking the steps to fix it. I hope my results are the same as yours. : - )

more than 90% of the people commented on this blog didn't read the full blog :D

Fumes of breath dancing with my mind, teeth grinding my laziness and fear and with this self confidence I set foot to do what I have always wanted. <br />
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Thank you for pushing forward.

I think people do not realize that to do well in a subject, you have to be interested in that subject - not just because it is a requirement. Physics was my major and I did extremely well in it because I really wanted to know the secrets of the universe. At the time, history held no particular interest for me and turned out to be my worst subject. (As I got older and my interest in history increased, now I like to study history).

I came across your story just now (Dec. 21, 2011) exactly a day after I submitted a readmit letter to my school. I dropped out for xyz reason, I also started to fail classes which led me to be kicked out of school. I really want to get back in school and complete my B.A. In Economics hopefully I do this before I hit 30 5yrs from now. Good luck in everything!

What's the update for this year? :)

I was thinking the same thing the other day and your comment reminded me. My story is now updated...enjoy! :-)

These stories really hit home to me.. Time to hit the books!

I'll be rooting for you!!

Hi TheIdeaOfMe,<br />
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I can really relate to your story, although I am only 24 (some days I definitely feel much older though!) When I finished high school I had no intention of studying at university; it had been hard enough to focus at school and I wanted a change of pace. But I thought I didn't want to be out of the studying game too long and enrolled in a Cert IV in Counselling and Communication course by a DE institution. I didn't stick with it, and I've since acknowledged it was in part not only because I wasn't ready to study, but also because the system I had to adhere to was ancient. It was 2005 and we were expected to hand write our assignments and send them by post, then wait up to four weeks to get them back - the same rules applied when needing to ask a question of our teachers.<br />
<br />
In 2008 I tried studying again, this time as a full-time, on campus student at Tafe (the equivalent of your community college). By the end of two years study I was to be awarded a Diploma in Community Services Work. At the same time I co-enrolled with my local university, sort of as a "what the hell, might as well" thought. Well that year I got married, and the following year my dad died. I dropped out of Tafe and off the radar from university for three semesters.<br />
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At the end of 2010 I started thinking about studying again, but this time I would do only what I think I should have done from the start - university only. Contacted a few people at the university, enrolled for semester 1 in 2011 and have since managed my way through my first full-time semester as a university student, doing some subjects on campus, and others by distance education. Now another full-time semester has begun, and by the end of this year I will be half-way through my second year (of four) in my Bachelor of Social Work. So far so good.<br />
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One thing I have learned is that no matter how far off track I have felt at times, I find now more than ever before that I have these brief moments of clarity, where everything makes sense; that I am where I am supposed to be right now, and although I will not graduate until I am 28 (God willing I have no more personal issues as I have in the past) I still think we will all get to where we are meant to be, one way or another. Good luck on your venture with your tertiary education!

Thanks for the luck! And good luck to you as well, I'm sure you'll succeed at your educational endeavors!

you are such an inspiration! :)

Thank you! It's been a tough road, but I'm still staying on track.

I was a lot like you. Brilliant until college, slacked off, screwed up, and now I'm stuck. Hope you break out. One of us has to.

Good luck to you. I can truly empathize with your story. it's odd to cite the weight expectations and ability as hinderance, but that is exactly what I have experienced. the "jumpstart" is just the word for it. I'm happy for you. Do you have any advice for anyone fighting the same stuck situation?

My only advice is that it's never too late to try again. Once I started going back, I have made many friends and I'm truly excited about learning again. I only have 1 more year to go...and if I can do it, then anyone can do it. Don't give up! I'll be rooting for you!

The one that win the fight is not the guy the that refused to rise up when he is struck down, but the ONE THAT IS ABLE TO GATHERN ENOUGH COURAGE TO STAND AGAIN NOMATTER HOW MANY TIME HE IS STRUCKED DOWN. SO COURAGE.

You know, The advise I would give you is be thankful that your livin with your parents and have that support. I am now 35 and have no one to fall back on. It is really hard but I'm doing it. I am now going into my 2nd year of college and LOVE it! I am also setting a great example to my kids! That no matter what life throws at you, there is always a positive way to look at things. My daughter is 18 and my son is almost 12. They know how young I was when I had my daughter and know I want different for them. So your already teaching your son that no matter what, You Can Do It!! =)<br />
^..^

wow i hope you make it , thnx for shring

Don't forget to seek out tutors from your school.

I was through a similar situation a few years ago, and it took me some time to be back to school. Last year i finally got my unniversity diplomma (at the age of 29!), and right after I continued my studies with a master's degree. Right now, I'm almost 30 years old, and a proud master's student.<br />
I am very happy with the decision I made, and once you get your engineer degree, I'm sure you're gonna feel very proud of yourself too! Trust me, once you do, you're gonna feel AWESOME! <br />
It took me a long time too, but I'm very glad I did... So it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get what u want, as long as you do it!!! Best of luck!

How Awesome for you! <br />
<br />
I can completely relate to your story! Well, aside from being sent to a school for gifted children. I probably would have if I put forth even 50% of my full effort through out an entire school year. I just didn't care about school at all while I was a child, which I blame on being brought up Jehovah Witness and constantly being told "The end of the world will be here ANY day." lol.<br />
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Thankfully I eventually found a wonderful ability with critical thinking and saw myself past that religion before it was too late for me! hahaa<br />
Anyways- I do am 30, have a child- am not married and live at home with family.<br />
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It is frustrating to look back at all the wasted chances and know that you are better than who you've let yourself become.<br />
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I too just started college this January and also am majoring in Physics- but my math right now- PITIFUL. I had to start out in a math class that is below the college level, way below!<br />
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It's true with math, you have to use it or you'll lose it.<br />
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I know before I dropped out of H.S. to get my G.E.D I was at least up to geometry! lol But hell if I remember any of that stuff now. But it is like riding a bike in some ways, re-learning what you knew before. And it's a lot easier to be reminded of something then to have to learn from scratch so thankfully that class is going well so far.<br />
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If you want to send me a message I'd love to keep in touch with you while we both give life a second try and persue physics together. I would love that!<br />
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I just started a journal actually so I could talk about this life changing path I am on :D<br />
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I am really proud of you and us. Not every one is able to go back to school or believes in themselves enough to do it. Some people would rather wallow in their misery or try to find any other way to get ahead in life.<br />
I use to be one of them!<br />
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And most who do don't decide to go for something crazy hard like physics either!<br />
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I don't know about you but when ever I tell someone my major I get big eyes, as if they could never even attempt that.<br />
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lol<br />
Makes me laugh every time.<br />
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Well keep up the good work sweetie, and keep reaching for the stars too!

I know exactly how you feel... I was ahead of my whole class in grade school, with perfect test scores, and was accepted into one of the best high schools in the country... Teachers and peers alike constantly told me how smart I was, and how I could do anything... I wanted to go to veterinary school... Due to some unforeseen circumstances I ended up in a really crappy high school, and didn't have to do hardly any work to pass.. I scored 2150/2400 on my SAT's in sophomore year, and got an $80,000 scholarship to a privete college in the area... After such an easy high school experience, I wasn't prepared at all for the level of work I got in college, and without enough financial aid, I had to drop out... <br />
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I'm living with friends now, and I hope to start school again when I have a job... I feel like I let everyone down... I had so much potential and I screwed it all up.

you know i know exactly what you are going to. Truly the worst thing in life is too look back and decide that your life has been a failure. Now I'm not you but I believe that your biggest mistake wasn't to fall in love... but to try so hard to please others instead of yourself. Its not about how proud your parents are of you (even though that is a pretty major thing). Mainly its about doing what you want to do. We only live once (even if you believe differently would you take the chance to be wrong?) and more then anything we need to accomplish what we consider is necessary for us rather than what other people think its necessary (in this case your parents).