Saturday, April 02, 2005

God bless Saturday!

This is the day I wait for all week long. By the time this day arrives, I am usually mentally and physically drained, very ready for my work day to finish so I can commence my "weekend", which consists of Sunday and Monday.

I am not entirely sure I am cut out to do the work that I do. More and more, I find the work I do a source of frustration moreso than fulfillment. I believe in the program I am a part of, I believe in its concept, but I am finding that the system I must work within is not conducive to the goals of the program this system help create. And I am realizing there really is no one person to blame for any of it. It is just how the system works, and I have to either work within that system, getting as much accomplished as I can given the limitations of that system, or I must find a new job that is more aligned with the kind of work I would like to do.

(For those who do not know, I work in a psychosocial rehabilitation for mentally ill adults. The program is part of Community Mental Health.)

I am also realizing that, having no college degree, I am pretty much stuck. I could just kick 20 year old Stefanie for not going to college, and making life so much more difficult for 29 year old Stefanie. Boy, if I ever meet 20 year old Stefanie in a dark alley...

But I guess we learn to move past our regrets, right?

I keep saying that I plan to go to college in the fall. And I do plan. I've been planning for several years now. Each year, I've gotten a bit closer to actually doing this thing I've been planning to do, but I've yet to actually do it. The truth of the matter is, I am terrified of going back to school. Absolutely petrified, hence my immobility in this area of my life.

High school was nothing short of horrible for me, and while I realize I am not the same girl I was in high school, many of those insecurities have lingered since then. I've been out of high school for nearly 12 years now, and yet, inside, I still very often feel like the same awkward, withdrawn, academically and socially clumsy girl I was 12 years ago. In so many ways, I am completely unlike that girl of 12 years ago. And in so many other ways, I am still very much the same.

I guess what it comes down to is that I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of venturing into this new thing, and finding that I cannot do it. And it isn't really the academics that frighten me, though I certainly had my share of struggles with that in high school. Many of the classes I took were the "dummy" classes for kids who couldn't hack it in the regular classes. Even considering that, though, I do not fear the academic load I'd be carrying. What I fear is pain. The pain of complicating my life with the hours and dedication it will take to complete my classes and earn my degree. The pain of balancing full time work and full time school, and still somehow finding time for the friendships that I've only just now developed in my life. Rational or not, I feel as though starting school is going to mean sacrificing some things that I do not feel ready to give up just yet. And, beneath all that, I guess I also fear that if I'm not around enough, people will kinda forget about me, and we'll become strangers again. It has taken me so long to feel comfortable in making friends, I am really not comfortable with the idea of losing my kinship with them so quickly.

Ya know, they don't tell you all this when you grow up in church. For those of us women who grew up in church, we've been prepared from the time we were two years old to become wives and mothers. The idea of going to school and having to earn a living of our own was rarely mentioned. In fact, come to think of it, I cannot think of any particular instance in which it was said, "Stefanie, you really should go to school, get an education, and earn a degree so you can get a good job and support yourself." In fact, when I did go to Bible college, with a sincere desire to learn, it was put in the church bulletin that I had gone to school to get my "Mrs. Degree".

According to my training, by this time, I should be married, have no less than 2 children, be living in a comfortable middle class neighborhood, driving a nice pre-owned SUV or mini-van, and looking into Head Start for my darling babies that are growing up much too fast. My husband - a clean shaven, button-down shirt wearing, corporate type with a respectable job, who earns a comfortable living, and serves as an usher at church -- should be coming home to hot meals every night, with the children neatly groomed and rosy cheeked, ready to sit on his lap and tell him about their day spent playing with the neighbor children, while I get dinner on the table.

Or something like that. Nowhere in my training was anything said about the necessity of being able to earn my own living. That wasn't supposed to be part of the deal.

Man, did I get gypped.

Or did I? After all, I'm 29 years old and still do not have my future wedding plans written down in a wish book, so it seems that I'm already bucking the system there. Maybe I'm not really diggin' the idea of just being the little wifey...I mean, yeah, I do dream of getting married and having a family, and loving and nurturing that family, WITH my husband, not FOR my husband...but I do not want that to be my whole identity.

And yet, I do want those things.

My sister and my 1 year old niece are staying with my parents right now, and we are all helping my niece learn sign language. This will help her communicate with us better before she actually learns to vocalize her wants and needs, and it will make everybody less frustrated. She is learning quite well. :)

Anyway, in the video she watches ("Signing Times: First Signs), she is learning how to sign "mom" and "dad". During these segments, they show pictures and video of real moms and dads playing with their kids, reading with them, hugging and kissing them, etc...and watching that tonight just struck a chord in me, and I felt a little bit of sadness. I yearn for those things, and often wonder if I'm meant to have them.

But that is neither here nor there, as I do not feel equipped at this time to be a wife or a mother. It seems that I do not feel equipped to do a lot of the things I dream of doing. So perhaps I should plan my wedding, just like I've been planning to go to college. I should make scrapbooks of all my plans. That would take up so much time, I wouldn't have time to do anything else.

I too had plans of that happy family style... Where I actually found it at 20 years old. I ahve done a lot of things in my life now that I look back am proud of my accomplishments. From growing up in school as a cheerleader and in the band. To my adult years. I moved out of my parents house at the age of 17 where I completed my senior yr of high school on my own. I then 1 1/2 later married my husband. (well ex now) In the 12 yrs we were together I accomplished even more than I thought... from lifegaurding to in home day even being a store manager at a fast food chain.... I never thought in a million years I would become one of those statistics for divorce I thought i broke that chain my family has. That perfect wedding I planned all my life happened... I love My kids more than anything in the world, I admit the first was a surprise but a very good one... If I had to do anything over again I am not sure where it would begin... But now Stef. I face your situation also I need to get back into school to get farther in my job also but i am scared to death... As a single mom I always have to think in the long run.... My kids need me and I need to be able to support them in any way that may be... My 10 yr old wants to go to Interlochen arts acad. for theater and I have to figure out how to get him there.... These are just small things but very important to me that they get what they need to grow up to be the best kids I could raise, with high self esteem and I know that school will help him get what he needs to feel better as a person to himself...
As close I understand what u mean about giving things up and I too am not ready to pass up NEW FOUND FRIENDS!
blabbs, I think you are indeed a kindred spirit :)

Your story goes to show that people have a lot more in common with each other than one might initially guess. We all carry many of the same burdens, they just take on a different look from person to person.
By your writing skills and depth of insight, you appear to be masters prepared. You must have been learning something outside the ivy walls.
I just started college again - for the fourth time. I stopped each time because I put my marriages first, over my education. In retrospect, what I did was put my husbands' need to be complied with over my own growth.
I'm taking classes online - it fits my life much better than going to classes.
(Sidebar - ometime, I'd like to tap your brain about the vulnerabilities of the mentally ill and what special needs they would have in a community disaster.)
Thank you, Pat.:) One of the people I work with told me a couple days ago, after reading an article I had written for the newsletter, that I AM in the wrong field, and I should be doing more with my writing. We might be on to something here...

Regarding the needs of the mentally ill in a disaster, feel free to email me about it. I would love to talk about it!
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