Updated: Feb 20, 2021
Or, a brief how-to on raising your voice.
How Going Back to School Filled a Nagging Silence In My Life
“For me, the real difficulty came when I realized that achieving my goals would require me to stand up for myself."
I should correct any impression I’ve given that me going back to school was a well thought out, informed decision. What it was, in reality, was me watching Big Little Lies for the third time in my life, while I drank half a box of White Claw in my room by myself, and realized that all the cool jobs on Indeed.com required a degree of some kind, so I applied for a nearby college. When I woke up, very hungover and experiencing extreme situational depression with Big Little Lies still playing in the background, I found out that drunk-me’s present to sober-me was a college admission and an enrollment appointment.
Going to school at 26 after finding out at age 24-25 what you really wanna do is… weird. And daunting. Especially if, like me, you spent your teens and early twenties floundering between major to major at a community college. For me, the real difficulty came when I realized that achieving my goals would require me to stand up for myself.
My courage waivered.
Getting anyone to believe in you after a long stretch of aimlessness is tougher than climbing Mount Everest. I should mention I’ve never climbed anything close to Mount Everest, but it really feels that way. And the surprising thing is, it's not always getting people to believe in you. It’s the psyching yourself up to even say out loud that this is a thing you want to do. It takes longer than you’d think to get up the courage to say it out loud, and the longer it takes, the harder you think they’re gonna laugh. It’s when you stop worrying about the laughter that your life begins. I can’t possibly be the first blogger to type this advice in some form, but when I sat there, staring at my computer screen, the only laughter I was thinking about was my own. At 26 years old, all my friends had already gotten degrees. Had thrown their graduation caps in the air. Had parties with their families. Even my little brother was closer than I had ever been to reaching that milestone. I wanted that joy, but there was a nagging feeling in my chest. If I did these things on my own timeline, if I chose now to catch up in life, would I be able to celebrate? Would the looks on the faces of those I love say “congratulations!” or “Finally! Jesus, what took her so long?” with a well placed roll of their eyes?
I knew if I waited any longer because of external validation, I would be making a mistake that I might not be able to come back from. I wanted to be excellent on my own terms, so I kicked that negative voice out of my head and I signed up for classes.
Since doing this, my power has filled me up to the brim; it’s like I planted my roots and then I became stronger. I’m no longer blowing in the breeze. I’ve cut off draining friendships, stood up for myself to people that I never imagined I could ever share my true voice with. I’ve screamed at the universe (and my very loving parents) to let me exist as I am, and I haven’t regretted a minute of it.
So that’s the point I was trying to find; whatever you are doing in life, celebrate yourself for it. Live your life on your schedule, and think about what will make you laugh, not what will make other people laugh at you. And from the bottom of my heart, wherever you are, whatever you just accomplished, or are trying to accomplish, I hope to God above that the people in your life celebrate you genuinely, and allow you to shine. I want that celebration so badly that I almost didn’t take the first steps.
Like my favorite tv heroine, Meredith Grey says:
“Don't let fear keep you quiet. You have a voice. So use it. Speak up. Raise your hands. Shout your answers. Make yourself heard. Whatever it takes. Just find your voice and when you do, fill the damn silence.”
Until Next Time.
-Eliza, In The Trees