But what you Not gon’ do is sht on education

This here goes out to everyone who wants to throw shade on people with degrees. For whatever reason. You don’t believe in them (OK.); didn’t finish (not my fault); didn’t get to go (I’m sorry.)

My higher education is a privilege I would not have had access to decades ago.

Yes, I’m going there. Because you can’t use black history in your Black Lives Matter protest posts and exclude the rights and privileges we now own, which you reassign as assimilation for me. Not fair.

I also don’t want to hear about the final value it provides (or doesn’t) because lesbehonest everything you do and say ain’t for the people. And you can tap your holy crystals on that one. Besides, my two Masters cost me less than $5000 combined (See Perks of Working in Higher Education.)   …..p.s. that isn’t a real post yet.

Obtaining a degree takes discipline; sacrificing immediate pleasure for a delayed one. It takes pushing through, even when you’re tired, confused, frustrated, uninspired. It takes discovering a you that you didn’t know existed. If the definition of integrity is doing what you’re supposed to do even when you know you won’t get caught, then obtaining a degree will shed an entire beacon of light on your integrity. Just ask any college or university’s Dean of Students office about the number of academic dishonesty charges they receive every term.

I made a self-conscious decision to better myself and the world around me by learning the ideas and philosophies of many men and women who preceded me, on many topics and interests, in a discipline I was intrigued by. And, no, I’m not saying all the methodologies are right, but I do feel I am better able to make informed decisions knowing all sides of an argument as opposed to solely those I was taught growing up, and in the very limited perspective of the world I was in.

Going to school presented an outlet for me. And something I could do, without anyone being able to take it away from me.

I left my dad’s house when I was 17. There was no college fund, no cushion account to get started on life, no car, no guarantee, no clue. I wasn’t allowed to participate in extracurriculars in high school. High school was one of the most confusing, frustrating, depressing times of my life.

But school I could do. College I could do! I could succeed. College was my first major decision that depended solely on me. And when distractions presented themselves I cracked down in the books, on the papers, with the readings even harder. The semester my mom passed I was taking the heaviest load of my college career, just to distract myself from what we all knew was inevitable.

When my mom was sick, I remember visiting her in Crawford Long one day. I didn’t visit often, even though Georgia State was right down the street. She kept saying, “You never come see me!” and my reply was always, “Mom, I’m working and going to school.” Then she said to me, “Well, good to know it’s more important than your Motha! I know one thing, you better make sure you go farther than I did!” That moment stung. Her words were painful. My mom could be a master manipulator of feelings. But, through her words, I gained strength. I kissed her forehead and promised I would.

I think she’d be proud of me.

I still haven’t gotten good at balancing work-study-family, but we’ll save that for another post.

My education is more to me than papers, than letters, than debt.

I don’t feel entitled; I feel empowered.

I have pride in my accomplishments. No one can take that away.

(I’d like to close by saying: If this submission made you feel some kind of way, perhaps I wrote this for you.)

And there was tonight…

This time last week I was pretty convinced I’d made a big mistake in “deciding” to teach English abroad. I put deciding in quotation marks because I’m clearly not going anywhere just yet, but I’d made my mind up a long time ago as if it was a done deal.

Well, at least I thought I did. Then last week, I re-made it. Or unmade it.  *shrugs* (don’t judge me; I’m not teaching English in college. Just the basics.)

I digress. I was so intimidated. I was anxious. I was confused. I was discouraged. I was tired.

I feel like I’ve just been chasing one goal after another, for yearsssss now. And I mean Years. Every year, I was choosing a new goal to achieve. And then, when it was achieved, I needed a new goal. Yes, admirable. On the other hand, exhausting. I don’t know why I am that way. From what I remember, I’ve always been intrinsically motivated. Call me a goal digger.

So, here I was, in week 5 of my TEFL Certification program and had an assignment to make my first lesson plan. I freaked all the way out. Because what that assignment meant is not just that I was midway into a program to teach non-English speaking students one of the (so it is said) most complicated languages to learn, but that I, ME, I was going to be a Teacher! Sure, traveling the world, experiencing new culture, living in a different country is all part of it, but my duty was to be education.

“I can’t do this. I’m not a teacher. I don’t want to be lonely.”

Those thoughts ran through my head like WTH do you think you’re doing girl. And if that’s not enough, the fact that I’d be quitting my job, leaving my dog, leaving behind all that’s familiar, comfortable, English… I just couldn’t.

I’d reconvinced myself of how I wanted my future to look.

Until tonight. Tonight I was in my second observation of an ESL classroom, and I looked around – at the students, at the teacher, at the board, at the observation notes I’d been taking. I saw the passion that started this dream almost five years ago now. I saw the possibilities. I saw me, in front of the classroom, bubbling with enthusiasm, rich with knowledge, willing and eager to share.

And I know all days won’t be golden days. But, tonight I’m relishing in the fact that I see those days again at all. I see it, therefore I can achieve it. It’s been a motto I’ve lived my life by for many years now. Yearsssss.

The Director and Founder tapped on the window to get my attention. Upon seeing him I realized I needed to get my Practicum log signed. We chatted for a bit, and then he offered me the opportunity to be put on the schedule as a substitute in the new year!

My heart fluttered a bit. Initially out of nervousness, but then immediately out of excitement. Here it is. What I’ve prepared and worked so hard for. And I didn’t even have to search for it, it landed right in my lap. One minute I was posting on Instagram about struggling in the class, which my friend saw and connected me to his colleague, who answered all my emails diligently and offered me to come observe, and now I’m only half-way through the course looking at a possible teaching opportunity.

My cup overfloweth. With gratitude. With confidence. With openness. I’ve softened my thoughts to let my heart talk a little, and give my brain a break from thinking about every single possible negative thought. I’m listening to my heart now, and I must say, I like the way it feels.

I’ve decided to start journaling my journey. So, here’s to part 1!