Saturday, November 14, 2009
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.