I made the decision to enroll in college in 2015.

Being a student was not on my radar. To be honest, I felt above it. “I’m a published author, after all. Why on earth did I need a degree?” was my argument when it was suggested that I consider attending school. Though I’d taken college courses in the past, I didn’t feel I was “going back to school.” All the times before, I simply went to college because that’s what you do after high school. School was never about pursuing a degree, but more so about figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

When I had first researched a local community college, my interests were scattered. Journalism, creative writing, psychology were a few programs high on my list. Psychology resonated the most, so I pursued it.

That summer, I enrolled in two courses. Final grades: Two As.

Those grades struck a match in me that produced a fire. The next semester, I enrolled in four courses. I needed further validation. You see, one of the reasons I ran from a degree track was due to my poor performance in retaining the information to pass tests. I hated tests, and the resistance showed. Not this time around, however. I needed more proof that I was no longer a C, D, and F student.

Four classes a semester wasn’t enough. I needed more. I wanted to get to the finish line faster. Five courses were next on my schedule.

Then came algebra.

My disdain toward math created a block that I couldn’t chip. I had a study partner, went to sessions with the professor, signed up for one-on-one sessions in the learning center, even crashed coursed it on YouTube. Nothing helped. Eventually, I stopped going to class. Then, I was dropped.

I felt like a failure. It validated my prior reasons for not wanting to further my education.

But I couldn’t quit. Not because of one course. I had goals.

It was during a philosophy class when “Dr. Blues” was whispered into my subconscious. That whisper reminded me of how I became a writer. A nudge that there was something needed of me inspired me to go from the pursuit of an associates degree to a bachelor’s to a PhD. So stopping after one failure was not an option.

I readjusted, changed my mindset, and persevered. My last semester at community college concluded with four As and one B. Those grades were what I needed to push through two summer classes. I was all the more motivated to begin the fall at University.

Me wearing a "here for the win" shirt walking in front of the words persevere.

Once I got there, the stress kicked in. Tons of questions ran through my head: Am I doing the right thing? Do I still want to pursue a BA then a PhD? What if I just give up psychology and pursue a different major? Writing, maybe? Should I just quit altogether?

In crept the doubt. I doubted myself as a whole, my ability to learn, to grasp, to retain.

My test scores weren’t great. Statistics kicked my butt, but it didn’t end me the way algebra did. I refused to let it. I noticed that my grades started out poor — at the bottom — but as the semester progressed, those test scores rose. Those small beginnings became big endings.

But I had to get to the end, you know? All the second-guessing myself on exams and entertaining doubt were terrible games of mental manipulation. It was self-destructive. The only way to break those patterns was to make changes and not look back. And that’s how I ended the semester with a 3.71 GPA

In the words of Mcfadden and Whitehead in the song ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’:

“There’s been so many things
That’s held us down
But now it looks like
Things are finally comin’ around”

Things did turn around.

The transformation had to take place in my mind before it manifested anywhere else. I had to affirm myself, encourage myself. I couldn’t be the one responsible for tearing myself down — there are too many other people in this world who do that. Even if I didn’t do well on an exam, as long as I did my best, I knew I could only improve from there.

The exit was to the left and I went right. I chose to stay on course.

You can’t give up when it’s hard. That’s when you need to push harder and stay in the game. It’s the challenge that creates a victor in you. You choose whether you succeed or fail, not your circumstances.

We shall see if I indeed pursue to a PhD…


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