Saturday, November 14, 2009

Been wanting to share this for a while - I am now a high school graduate.

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I turned 40 last December 31st- 24 years since I quit high school at the age of 16 to work a full time job. I worked for the next 23 years but I never went back and finished high school or went on to take the high school general equivalency test. (GED)

In school I had tested into the "gifted" program but general studies never held my interest and the art programs that were available at the time weren't anything to write home about. I was one of those kids that never worked up to their full potential and somehow managed to slip through the cracks. My high school was overcrowded and there just wasn't enough faculty to pay attention to apathetic students like me. I didn't play sports, wasn't in the band, and didn't hang with any one group of people for very long. I was a loner and an oddball outcast - all of which helped to contribute to a feeling of just not belonging. I left the minute I turned 16 and never looked back. I dove head first into the workforce and managed to secure several jobs over the years - miraculously none of which required me to have a high school diploma. I had wanted to eventually take the GED test, but as the years wore on, the thought of it became more & more difficult.

At my last job, (I was there 7 years) I was writing training/procedural manuals and growing frustrated... Without formal training, I was never going to get properly compensated for the job I was doing, and I wasn't even liking it very much.

With my skill set, I knew that at the bare minimum, I needed my GED if I wanted to move on to something bigger and better - even if bigger and better only meant personal growth through accomplishing something that scared the piss out of me. And why did taking the GED test scare me so? Even though I do consider myself to be intelligent and well spoken, for reasons that are beyond me I had myself thoroughly convinced that if I could ever manage to take the stupid test, that I would fail it - and you know what? The mind is very powerful. Instead of using the power of positive thinking, I charged my energy with negative thoughts and got in my own way of moving forward.

Enter my good friend Jim D. who is all about personal growth & evolution. Once I revealed my unfounded (fear based) reasons to him for my not wanting to take the test, combined with my having never having had anyone hold me accountable for my actions, he was absolutely RELENTLESS in getting me to take that test. I'd whine, "What if I fail?" and he'd respond, "So what? Then you take it again. No big deal." He basically led me to understand the error of my ways... of how I was holding myself back by living in fear and never even trying to move forward. He would tell me over and over again the best way to break a pattern - by taking tiny manageable steps and then creating momentum to move on to the next. He would call me and say, "What step did you take today?" And though there is ultimately no one but me to hold myself accountable for anything, I greatly appreciated his encouragement in a situation where I had placed me in a hole 50 feet over my head. And so little by little, I started to climb out. I called the school and found out the date of the test. Then I went to register. Then I went on two consecutive nights and took the test. Then I waited three weeks to get the results.

And then... it came. As of 02/19/09, I became a high school graduate. And you know what? I kicked the SHIT out of that test. But over the next few days, the craziest thing started to happen. I started to get a little depressed - as if there was a hole in me, and actually, there was. There was a hole created by where the fear, worry, stubbornness, and resistance to change used to be. It was a hole freed up by all of that negative energy and it wasn't anything to be depressed about - it was something to rejoice about. For when you stop worrying, it frees up all kinds of energy for you to do great things... which I have, and will continue to do.

It was a difficult decision for me to share this on my blog, because to me, it was kinda embarrassing that it took me until I was 40 to get my diploma - but then I got to thinking... If I could inspire just one person... then it was well worth it.

46 comments:

spiritunesmusic said...

Stephanie - I think it's a great and moving story - and not at all anything to be embarrassed about! I will be turning 40 this coming year myself, btw. But I think that you went and finally did the thing that you felt somehow ashamed of and took those little steps to get there - that's what matters, you know? That you were putting yourself out there to try. Congrats!

Biffybeans said...

Thanks Kathy :o)

Strikethru said...

Congratulations! I am sure it feels good to get that monkey off your back, although I like the idea of smart people telling high school to f*** ***. It's such a soul-sapping experience, by and large.

Biffybeans said...

Strikethru - I used to feel like that... "Look at all I've accomplished without a diploma" but then I realized that I was just saying that to justify not going and clearing that hurdle. There is nothing saying that I will ever really need that piece of paper for anything, but the peace of mind that came from overcoming a personal fear was worth getting it.

Gentian said...

Congratulations! It's a very inspiring story. It must feel good to take the test and not have to worry about it any longer. You have definitely accomplished a lot, and you definitely inspire many people.

monanoke said...

Glad you went ahead and took the plunge - now nothing can stop you from doing the bigger and better things you've always wanted to do! Cheers!

deek said...

Thanks for sharing. I do think this can be inspiring for others in a similar position.

I know my hurdle was a piece of paper, too. My college degree. I went through 5 semesters (and two different universities) and then failed out due to poor attendance (my way of saying F Off!).

And I lived in that same fear as I moved from job to job (in the computer/IT fields, for which I had pursued a degree) thinking how I didn't need a piece of paper. I acquired a certification here and there, but never went back to finish my degree.

I finally did 3 years ago and man, was it easy (most things are once you've been in the real world for a while). I kicked myself for not doing it earlier...

Julie (Okami) said...

Stepanie - WOOT!! It's wonderful that you took this step and thank you for sharing.

It's amazing the things that we can accomplish if we just aren't afraid to try.

Beth T Irwin said...

Congratulations! Now you know it was only a piece of paper and you were really that fantastic person we know you are all along.

I'm proud of you for having the guts to talk about it, the guts to go and DO it, and the courage to realize the only thing holding you back was YOU.

No more excuses, no more fear. Yes!

unhalfbricking said...

That's wonderful, and congratulations! It's very inspiring indeed to see that you've been able to (first) achieve and grow so much without that piece of paper, and (secondly) how you had the grace to go and get what you needed in spite of any fear. Vey glad to hear you're going where you want to be going. :) xxx

Kelly said...

What a great attitude you have and such good insight. Imagine the power that that piece of paper held over you all those years. But this was just the right time for you to take this step. All forces and energy came together to create the safe space for you to be able to move forward. You've changed some ideas of yourself in the process and are now developing new ideas of who you are and what you are capable of.
And it's good to have a friendship where you can get such support - it's clear there's a lot of trust there.
So happy for you.
Bravo. Hugs to you!

Kate the Kate said...

Congratulations, Steph! I know what you mean about being afraid. I've been toying with the idea of getting my Master's degree and even though everyone has been very supportive—my brain would rather listen to the two people who, upon hearing that I was thinking about doing this, made me feel like I was too stupid to even tie my shoes correctly. Good for you for pushing past the fear and doing something you always wanted to do! Congratulations again!

Christi said...

I seldom read blogposts all the way through but I did this one. Congratulations on your accomplishment and being willing to share your story. I suppose we would be amazed at how many people among us have similar stories, and you are to be admired and praised for your eloquence and courage in telling your story. More people, especially women, should tell their stories so the rest of us will not feel so alone and isolated. Good work!

molly jean said...

Congratulations!!! To overcome the negative momentum was a huge deal! You are blessed to have a persistent friend but you did it!

Trish said...

congratulations!!

bleubug said...

Congratulations. Great story.

maria mercedes said...

This is really great!!! Congratulations!! I admire you for your art but after reading this story I think you are an extraordinary woman. Not many people have the guts to do what you have done.
This is huge! The hole story...and the courage to share it with us.
Thank you very much for that.

Jennie said...

Good for you!

gypsy said...

Stephanie, Congratulations on facing your fears head-on and smashing them to bits. You are on a roll! ~ Tammy

mimi said...

I had nightmares for years, as an adult, that I was to take a college chemistry exam yet had not gone to one class all semeseter. As soon as I did go back and finish my degree I slept like a baby. Zzzzz!

Thank you so much for sharing that part of yourself with us, Stephi. You continue to demonstrate what an interesting, brilliant, engaging, and creative woman you are.

LovelyBlue27 said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! The sense of accomplishment must have been wonderful for you!

Lanz said...

The acquisition of knowledge should *never* be a cause for anything negative. A day you've learned something is a successful day.

molly z. said...

Congrats on all you shared and accomplished (so what if it was after 40)! ! ! ! This is perfect encouragement for me (had my job/life wacked out from under me 2 1/2 yrs ago) as I've been mourning loss of my 'perfect' job. Must remember - When a door is closed, a window is opened! thanks a bunch for sharing and the kick in the whazoo!
molly z.

Anne said...

Your explanation for the depression after the accomplishment is dead-on. I've experienced it and could never quite figure out why it happened.

You're so very brave and I'm so VERY proud of you! I'm not surprised one bit that you did so well, either.

journalingarts said...

Congrats, Stephanie! You did it the hard way, but you did it. That says a lot about your character. I hope that hole is filled with all of the positive energy and experiences you desire. Thanks for sharing this.

Nrepose said...

Congratulations Stephanie! You should be very proud, and I know that you are. Nr

Mario said...

Congratulations, I'm going to tell your story this evening to my children - a good lesson and a good example for everyone.

all-my-hues said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Just goes to show, IMO, how school doesn't necessarily teach any skills you'll actually USE in life, or need in order to be successful, happy, or both. There are so many people who judge their intelligence/capability based upon test scores and grades they get, but your story shows that they shouldn't (I'm one of those people :P). Good for you! :^)

Laura K. Curtis said...

I know I've said this before, but I think it's FABULOUS that you went back and got your diploma!

Kim said...

This is a great post, a great accomplishment, and I'm grateful that you shared it with us! I had the same kind of blockages going on with going back to school - I just couldn't figure out how to do it. Going back to community college has been one of the best experiences though.

Congrats. :)

Clem/The Archer said...

Congratulations, stephanie! i sent you an email last night. I hope you got it. :) Cheers!

Jim Donovan said...

Tip of the iceberg...

Speedmaster said...

Outstanding, GREAT work!!!! :-)

plo said...

Kudos to you for going through with this, and for having the guts to let people know. This is close to my heart, as I am a GED examiner. I have seen the most incredible stories of accomplishment from people who thought they couldn't and they could! Congrats!

Biffybeans said...

Gentian, thank you so much! It definitely feels good to not even have to THINK about it any longer. It's a non-issue now.

Monaoke- thank you and yes! Onward & Upward!

Deek - It's a good feeling isn't it? Sometimes you just need to give yourself a little push. Or in my case, a giant bodyslam.

Julie - Yes... just try.. Thank you!

Beth, awwwww.. thanks. Yes. I was A #1 in holding me back. No more excuses!

unhalfbricking - thank you so very much. :o)

Kelly - It's amazing the power and energy we waste or give away... And I am truly blessed for having such a great friend who helped me to believe in me.

Kate - Thank you so much! And isn't that the truth? Have 499 people tell you "You go girl!" and only really hear that 500th person that said, "What are you thinking?" It's crazy the way our mind has selective hearing and how it can hold us back.

Biffybeans said...

Christi - thanks so much for taking the time to read all of my post and for your kind words. There are probably many among us that have such wonderful stories to tell.. and it is difficult. You don't want to be judged. You don't want to out yourself out there and risk getting stepped on...

Molly Jean - Thank you Molly! and I do believe I am very blessed with having a great friend to kick me in the patoot.

Trish & Bleubug - thank you very much!

Miz. Mason said...

Since I found your blog you are forever amazing me! You are a total inspiration to me and you make me feel somehow normal about my pen fetish=) Until I read your blog I felt wierd and never compleately understood. You however rock!! And your latest accomplishment just proves to me once again I picked someone wonderful to look up to. Thank you for all you are and all you share. I know you are a personal highlight in my day=D
~Warmly, A fan

Penny said...

Congrats!

januari said...

Thank you for sharing this, and Congratulations!

Erin C. said...

Congratulations, Stephanie! You're awesome for facing down your fears and pursuing the diploma. And, you're awesome for sharing the whole story here. I think your GED is a whole lot more meaningful than someone's diploma earned through parental encouragement and pressure.

Paul Sedillo said...

Thank you.

Your honesty, courage, and willingness to share something so personal is inspiring.

I'm battling a similar situation with my son who is 16, an artist, gifted and talented, and in need of support. This helps more than you could ever know.

Thank you.

Biffybeans said...

maria - thank you very much for your kind words.

Jennie - Thank you

Tammy - smashing them to bits, kicking them to the side and heading face forward into the next.. :o)

mimi - you are more than welcome and thank you so much for your kind words - I really appreciate them!

Ness, thank you! It was huge in many different ways....

Lanz - Thank you....

molly z. - another window is opened indeed!!! and thank YOU!

Anne - the void is a crazy thing. You think after moving forward that all would be bright and rosy.. but that doesn't happen until you fill that empty space with positive energy. And Thank you!

Cynthia, it was the hard way indeed. Thank you for your kind wishes. :o)

Nrepose - Thank you!

Mario - I choked up a bit when I read your comment. hearing that, I know I did the right thing by posting it to the web.

all-my-hues - Thank you! Street smarts are incredibly valuable but school does teach discipline and social skills that can be otherwise hard to acquire, It also probably teaches about the correct use of the comma, which I continue to struggle with. ;)

Laura - Thanks so much! I appreciate that!

Kim - thank you and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks Clem!

Jim - I am finally starting to believe you... :o) Though I will always appreciate that for a time, you believed more in me that I did myself.

Biffybeans said...

Speedmaster - Thank you!

plo - it was so hard because I had just thoroughly convinced myself I would fail and I guess when I set my mind to something, it takes an earthquake to get me moving again. PS - my examiner was absolutely fabulous.

Thanks Penny!

Miz. Mason - I can't thank you enough for your kind words. And it's in you as well..... :o)

januari - your welcome and thank you!

Erin C. - bless your heart... thank you!

Paul - it's really rough - being 16.. you are so confused with adult thoughts... but you are still a child. Please tell hime I said to hang on....

DaMacGuy said...

Stephanie,

That's wonderful, brave, and future facing. You have buried a ghost from your past, and have even more to look forward to. Good on ya!

We should all conquer our own demons, like you, one at a time.

WI

Biffybeans said...

WI - Thank you so much! Yes... let's all stack them up and then knock them down one by one!

Once upon a time said...

Go girl.. proud of you!! I look forward to hearing about what demons you'll slay next.. :)

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