Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deer in the Headlights

Classes at UT started today. I went to get my books. Campus wasn't as crowded as it is during fall semester. I got lucky and found a metered space close to the bookstore so I didn't have to make the hike halfway across campus. It is a Winnie-the-Pooh day here today - quite blustery. I'm glad I didn't have to walk that far.

As I entered the bookstore and fought the crowds to get to where I needed to go, I looked around at faces of those folks who were so much younger than me and it hit me. "What the heck am I doing here??" I stood there for a minute, frozen like a deer in the headlights. It was one of those moments one sees on TV, where the character is standing there and everyone else is either blurred from moving so fast around her or everyone else is moving in slow motion. Then I remembered my mom and my sisters who went back to school to finish their education. I saw the face of my friend, Steve, who has been such an encouragement. I heard my daughter say, "I am so glad you're a student here (at UT)!" I remembered the encouragement my Computer Science teacher, Ms. Mayo, gave me. I thought, "It's okay. I belong here."

As a nontrad, those moments of uncertainty may come more often because we think we're "too old" to go back to school, we're "past our prime", we can't compete with younger folks, we forgot how to study, the ol' gray matter just ain't what it used to be, etc. It's okay to experience those moments of trepidation. Just don't stay there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. History is full of examples of people who reached their "prime" when they were in their 40's and beyond.

As I walk into my classes this semester, I know 90% of the students will be half my age or younger. Chances are my teachers will be my age or younger, too. That's okay. My goal is to finish my education. My mom and dad, my sisters, my friends and my family are all behind me as I strive to achieve that goal. I may have moments of uncertainty, but I am certain I am going to keep moving forward!

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