My life went off the rails when I was a teenager. Through a series of unfortunate events, I dropped out of school and skipped town. Most of my life from that point on just sort of happened to me. There was no plan, there was no direction. I simply ended up in the next place, doing the next thing. I worked really hard just to keep myself afloat, and had many happy accidents along the way that allowed me to eventually live a pretty decent existence until recently.
I had it all planned out once. I was in high school, taking advanced computer classes, working an almost full time job, and simultaneously taking classes at the community college. I was getting the pre-requisites out of the way so that when I finished high school, I could hit the ground running into a university, finishing into a fabulous profession that I just loved.
Obviously, things didn’t go according to plan. I ran into some major hiccups. My relationship to my immediate family had been strained since I was 8 years old, and only got worse in high school. I was always an outcast within my family, but in high school, I was more so, particularly when my stepfather found me out as being gay. His response was to cut me off from communication with the outside world. I was no longer allowed to use the computers at school because they had access to the Internet. My academic career came to a screeching halt, I dropped out of school, and got out of town when I was 16.
I didn’t just drop out. I dropped out four times. I kept trying to go back. I kept thinking each time that I could do it, but I couldn’t pull it off. It generally boiled down to time availability, and the fact that working and paying rent always seemed to win out in importance.
Now here I am, a 32 year old person with years of life experience but no accreditations, no diploma, and no degrees. Each time I face a job application, I’m sent into a tailspin of feeling not good enough, and not worthy of the job I’m applying for because I don’t have any education. It’s even more difficult with online applications because there’s simply no way to explain yourself. I used to feel that not having a diploma wasn’t a big deal, that I’d gotten along perfectly well without it. That rationale began to fall apart though when I realized that I’d been a perpetual under-earner, not feeling qualified to ask what I was worth in terms of pay.
It’s time to go back and start over. It’s time to return to the point in life where the train went off the track. I need to try to put the train back on the track, and the only way to do that is to go back what feels like millions of miles away. I’m starting with taking GED preparation classes at the local community college. I’m scared to death that I may not be able to handle the classes. I’m scared to death that I may fail the test. I’m going to try though. I’m going to try to go down the path that I wanted my life to go down 18 years ago.