When I went to college, I wasn’t really prepared for what I was about to face. It’s not that I was a bad student in high school, I wasn’t…in fact, I was above average. Of course, I struggled in math but I excelled in English and History, which made up for it. Still, I was lulled to complacency, because no one ever actually challenged me to think. I take that back, my drama instructor did. She was always getting us to think, analyze and make decisions.
Many things contributed to my complete failure of a first semester. Ok, so technically, I didn’t fail…but darn close. It was bad. One class, I just plain wasn’t ready for and didn’t understand. But I didn’t ask for help, either. Then there was the social fiasco of changing from one mentoring group to another, mid-semester (honestly, that was pretty traumatic). Oh, and the skipping out of the Freshman Orientation class because I thought it was stupid. I hated my vocal coach, because she was picking music that was really hard and that I’d never even heard before. It was a big mess. I was put on notice that if I didn’t get at least B’s the following semester, I would be asked to leave. Ok, fine…I’d do what I had to.
I decided to get serious. I wanted to sing and teach music, but wanted to do it on Broadway…or off Broadway…or something. Or at least be able to be a music director in a school or church or something. So, I went to my voice lessons, even though my teacher was a pain, I got tutoring help for one of the classes where I was lost, and sincerely tried to understand what they were saying in the theory class (I’d never taken theory, so I really had to work hard to keep up). By the end of my Sophomore year, I’d brought my grades up to a B- average. Thing is, though, even though I ‘really wanted to sing’, I never really practiced like I should…maybe sporadically, but not a couple hours a day. I just kind skated along, thinking that it was just good enough.
The last day of finals of my Sophomore year was the same day I was moving out of the dorm. As I was packing my stuff into my parents’ van, I got a phone call from my theory professor saying that he couldn’t find my final. This was a 3 day take home exam which I had really struggled with and put INTO HIS HAND and watched him put into his briefcase. But he didn’t remember that. He had lost it. Oh, and if I wanted to get credit for it, I’d have to take it again. Um….I don’t think so. As a result of my decision, I ended up with a “D”. A “D”. I was so angry…it really wasn’t fair, I thought.
I’d been tossing around the thought of not going back to that college in the fall (for personal reasons), but at that moment, I decided that I definitely wouldn’t come back, and that I would change my major. A few years ago, my choir director from that time (who was also my mentor and advisor), asked me why I quit and that he was disappointed, because he thought that if I’d just tried a little harder I would have been one of his best students.
I look back at that time and sometimes regret the decision I made. I wonder what it would have been like if I’d just been stubborn enough to fight through the theory classes and practiced a bit more. I wonder what I could have accomplished in the music world if I’d just worked at it. But I’ll never know, because I let someone’s stupidity give me an excuse to quit.
This road I’ve chosen now…to be a marriage and family therapist…is no easier than the one I started down 23 years ago. In fact, it’s probably harder to go down it now than it would have been then. But now I KNOW what it is I want. I have a clear vision and understanding of how things are and how I want them to be. But it took a LONG time and a lot of discipline to get here. I’m older, have more responsibilities and have major health issues, but I’m not going to let those things distract me from what’s really important. I will do whatever it takes to get past the obstacles that lay ahead and refuse to make excuses. I just wish I could get my daughter to understand this…maybe living by example will accomplish what lectures haven’t so far.