Hurdles, Obstacles, and Other Metaphors for How Life Sucks

It doesn’t seem like any of it should be this complicated. All I want is to live somewhere comfortable, do things I care about, and see parts of the world other than the place I grew up. I’m pretty sure this is all a lot of people want. How can it be so hard?

I went to college for five years, but I didn’t graduate. I left in 2008 not by choice, but because I could no longer get financial aid, and in fact had to pay the university back a $5000 loan that they’d rescinded retroactively after I failed my classes in the fall of 2007. As long as that was outstanding, I couldn’t register for classes or request a transcript in order to apply anywhere else (after I moved away). It took me eight years, but three weeks ago I finally made the last payment.

Now, at 31 years old, I’m trying to figure out how to get a degree. I need a Masters in Library Science to progress in the career I’ve started, and I need a bachelor’s degree before that. Here are my options:

  • Finish the degree I started working on thirteen years ago at the college I went to
  • Transfer my credits to a university near where I live now
  • Start completely over.

Option one would require moving to Utah and finding out if the university will even allow me to attend anymore, because one of the requirements is an ongoing ecclesiastical endorsement and I have no way of getting one. The LDS church isn’t hugely fond of ex-Mormons, so I suspect that my chances are not great. Best case scenario, if this option worked, I’d be looking at two years, plus a cross-country move.

Option two is the simplest choice, in theory, but I’m not sure whether I can make it work. Transfer students have to be in good standing at the university they’re leaving, and I was on academic probation when I left. None of my AP, SAT, or ACT scores would apply anymore because I took the tests more than ten years ago, so I’d have to take the state standards test before applying and then take some of the basic courses those scores exempted me from the first time around. This would be my best case scenario, if I talk to an advisor who can make some exceptions for me.

Option three . . . sucks. On the one hand, I love being in school and would love the opportunity to get a whole new degree, especially because the one I started was largely wasted on religion electives and focused toward a career in editing rather than library science. On the more practical hand, that would mean another six years before I can get my MLS. Six years before I can even start the process of looking for a full-time librarian position. At which time I will be 37 years old.

Holy shit. I hadn’t even realized that until right now. If things continue the way they are, I will be almost 40 before I can actually start the career I’ve been working toward since I was 25.

The thing is that nothing else can start until that happens. If life was tolerable in the meantime that would be one thing, but it’s already been eight years of suffocation, massive student loan debt, no health insurance, untreated anxiety and depression, sharing one car, not being able to do any of the things we dream of doing, still never having left the country, a mile-long list of Things to Buy When We Actually Have Money . . . I don’t have a degree, so I’m stuck in part-time positions making less than half of what Mike makes, which means we depend completely on his income, which means he continues to be trapped in a job he hates, a job that drains him mentally, physically, and emotionally every single day. Because he doesn’t have a degree either, and we live in north Texas with only one car, so his options are almost as limited as mine.

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