Out of proportion
Ever blow anything out of proportion? I don’t mean just a little out of perspective, I mean REALLY blow it out of proportion, like “it’s the end of all existence!” kind of scenario. Ya?... no… <sigh> …well, I do.
When I was much younger (I won’t date myself here) and I was living with my parents, we moved homes and schools often enough that it became difficult to maintain friendships. But that’s not where I’m headed here. It also made it difficult to transfer my grades and credits from school to school, and while there’s an entire story behind that whole mishap, I did graduate high school, and I’m grateful that I did and had the opportunity to do so—regardless as to how well it adhered to plans. For today, however, I’m going to skip that story and fast forward to present day—as in about a month ago to current.
I always felt a calling to a “higher education,” and in my recovery, I’ve been pointed and directed and steered and pulled and eventually even told that it was in my near future. I wouldn’t have believed it at any point in my life previously as it was always just out of reach because of time, money, or (sadly) intellect—and yes, I truly believed I didn’t “have what it would take” due to my aforementioned educational experience. Nonetheless, I’ve always had a desire to improve myself educationally, and my recovery was definitely telling me to get off of my ass.
Well, why not? In my four-plus years of sobriety, I had met people that had graduated college much later in life than they ever intended to, or even ever thought that they would. I had also met people who were going to college, and even some who were just starting college. When all of these people discovered my hidden, secret desire to further my education—they firmly asked me why I wasn’t already doing something about it.
So I did.
I mean, I started the process. Isn’t that what we’re told to do? Take action? Just get started? How many times in my recovery did I want something so bad that the only way to get it was to just do it, so I had to simply begin? That’s how I sobered up to begin with—albeit not my initial intention, but action nonetheless! So, I began by discussing options with people already in college. How’d they get started? Where did they begin? How did they pay for it? That was a simple enough start, the ball was rolling. From there, it was contacting advisors who helped me answer the questions in more detail, then applying to a college, figuring out financing, taking a placement test, and transferring high school credits.
High school credits.
Seemed easy enough. Contact the high school, get the transcripts in the proper, legal form, and move on. Simple enough. Transcripts paid for, delivered to college… now, just wait for the acceptance email.
<a couple of loooong days later>
I always imagine AOL's old “You’ve got mail!” sound bite when I excitedly-notice that an email that has come in from an expected source. With a hastened swipe, an overly-accurately typed passcode, and a mere moment’s wait, there was the email from the college of my choice… ooooo, so exciting! I could hardly prevent myself from skimming over the email as I searched for the words, “You’ve been accepted to college, smart guy!” After a couple of passes, I managed a few deep breathes, and read:
“Good Morning DL,
While processing your transcript from your high school I noticed there is no graduation date. Did you graduate? …”
WTF! Did I read that right? Did I just read that correctly? The school is reporting that I didn’t graduate?! I have the diploma in my safe! How could this possibly be?!
And then… the sky was falling. The empty school was set ablaze in my mind as our entire educational system state-wide went under investigation for misplacing my graduation date. Authorities from all over the nation were hot on the trail for the bastards that refused to give me credit for the work I’d done (and redone due to missing credits from changing schools), and someone was going to pay hell for it!... all to no avail. Suddenly, I knew my dream of furthering myself and getting a “higher education” was completely out of reach and I would forever be “the guy that just couldn’t do it.” I was done.
I burned on that for nearly four days. Maybe more if you count sleep time and breathing time. I mean really. Seems pretty absurd when I think about it, but that’s how it works for me—most of us in recovery, I think—all, or nothing. But with some time, some rest, a couple of conversations with people (both in recovery and normies), I pulled my head out of my arse, screwed it on straight, and took the next indicated action in the process: I contacted both the school, and the college.
Several emails and a phone call later, it was discovered that the graduation date was indeed on the transcript, it was just in a different location than the college had expected. To make matters more confusing, when the transcript had been resent the second time around, the page had only been half-transmitted, so it was missing the date altogether. By the end of the email chain, the two parties communicating about the transfer had it all figured out, and when all was said and done, the college confirmed they had received my highschool tracnsript in entirety.
Now that I’m seeing things as they actually are rather than super-sized and askew, there’s only three things left to do: 1) wait for the acceptance email (again), 2) select my classes, and 3) complete the online student orientation. Technically, I guess there is a fourth, and that involves waiting until classes start this January of 2018. Aside from that, I’m happy to say that I’m heading off to college for the first time in my life.
Just imagine if I had lived with my out of proportion perspective. I'd be missing this growth opportunity. It kind of makes me realize how much I need to slow down and respond rather than react, but that's a blog for another day.