Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Made of Scars and Filled with My Old Wounds

It's been more than 10 years since I graduated from law school.  More than 13 years since I made the worst decision of my life and applied for admission.  What in Hell was I thinking?  Why didn't someone warn me:  Miss April, don't go. You'll take on $100K+ loan debt and you won't do a damn thing with your education. In 10 years, all you'll have is an overpriced piece of paper sitting in your attic closet and a collection of scars.

I hate myself for having been so stupid.  Why did I go, you ask? Honestly?  Because Dr. Stacia Straley told me to and (and this is a really big AND) my mother said I couldn't.  Her words when I told her I was applying were "Yeah, right."  She didn't believe in me and I was determined to throw that in her face.

Maybe she was right?  What good is graduating from an intense, expensive, law program if you piss it away?

I knew the first semester I did not want to be a lawyer.  I found it difficult to make friends with other law students.  It was clear that most of them grew up much differently than I did.  In 3 years, only 1 professor learned my name. (Section 1 friends: it wasn't Sahl! Ha!)

I was never impressed with the corporate world. I took an internship in a public defender office longing to find something to help me love the profession.  I left it feeling even more jaded.  It truly was a revolving door: the same clients over and over and over.  While I was mentored by 4 very fine attorneys, I identified more with the office staff.  The same is true of my first real job post law school.  I befriended the office secretary and felt "out of place" with the attorneys.  I DID NOT FIT IN.  You can't expect a gold fish to thrive in the ocean.

I was so busy running from my roots.  I wanted to be as detached from "po-dunk" as possible.  I wanted to show "them"  I was more valuable than they ever gave me credit for being.  All those smug, "I'm better than you" teens that made fun of me because they saw my mom use food stamps or noticed my free lunch. (I stopped eating school lunch in 11th grade because I was teased so badly.  It was humiliating.)

So I went to law school, completed 3 grueling years, graduated....suck it, naysayers... and then failed myself.  I happily accepted my husband's wish to move back to his hometown,  a crap town full of crap people who largely remind me of those I ran from.  (There are many wonderful exceptions. You know who you are. And I hope to meet many more.) I left a real profession to be a bar manager.  I wasted years at home.  My post-children brain is not what it once was.  I am no longer smart and often wonder if I ever was.

When I figured out what I wanted to be, graduate program admission counselors recommended teaching elementary kids.  My response was "No thanks.  Little kids give me hives."  <---That's true.  Instead, I opted to become licensed in grades 7-12 Integrated Social Studies and am apparently unemployable. Why?  Because I don't coach football.

School districts invent positions for football coaches.  Someone like me, with 2 advanced degrees, can't even land an interview.  *Sidenote: I wonder if I could sue all the districts in Ohio that have hired sub-par social studies teachers on behalf of the students they've failed?  (Here, failed means 'to let down' rather than 'to flunk.') Of course, if I did, I would never, ever, no-not ever be hired as an educator in any district in the nation.* I now realize admission counselors pushed me toward elementary education because I am a woman and am employable in elementary schools.  And now I almost wish I had listened.

So, here I am, nearing 35 years old, watching my teacher friends in the midst of their careers and I haven't started mine.  I graduated high school determined to make an impact on the world.  To change it.  But I've yet to do anything.  If life is a mirror, I have no reflection. 


  1. Oh April, I relate to this so, so much. Going to pharmacy school (and flunking out almost 2 years later) has really kind of ruined my life. It was a terrible decision made for all the wrong reasons, and I regret it every single day. I'm buried in student loan debt that I'll be dead before I can pay off, and even though I love the job I have, it pays very little and it's kind of a dead end unless I leave. I'm not able to even make a dent in what I owe with the money I make.

    I thought people would be impressed that I went to a "prestigious" school known for its programs in the medical field. Really, all "prestigious" meant was "expensive." I was a poor kid in a private high school. If you came from the "922," you were automatically trashy, no matter how you presented yourself, how well-spoken and well-read you were, no matter your grades. You were trash because your family was poor. So I totally get wanting to prove people wrong who didn't believe in you, most of all your own mother (as we've discussed before, you know that I have a similarly strained relationship with mine).

    It's really easy to beat yourself up over poor decisions, and question yourself and your abilities (hey, at least you graduated! I went from being a HS honor student to a pharm school dropout, which severely damaged my already-fragile self esteem). But you know what? It's done. You can't change it. All you can do is keep plugging away at life and taking the time spent in law school as a learning experience.

    I completely disagree that you aren't smart. I knew from the moment I met you that you are someone that I could relate to in this dreary, depressing town. You are not like everyone else here, and that's something to be proud of. You are educated and articulate and you are raising three beautiful children to be the same. That's important and valuable.

    Things will work out the way that are meant to, and I truly believe that. A career will happen. For now, you just keep on being the rockin' mom and wife and friend that you are.

    1. I'll miss you tremendously when you make it to the big city.