Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Can't Go Home Again...

For some reason, at this time of year -- late summer -- I go through a stage of introspection and retrospection. I think it's because September feels like the beginning of a new year, and I assess my accomplishments -- and failures -- over the past. I was digging through some old photos the other day, and I found this picture of myself when I was about eight or nine years old. Oh, goodness, what a little pudding face. I remember at that age what my hopes and dreams for my life were. I was quite adamant about what I wanted, and number one on the list was a university education. Even at that age, I knew education was the key to all the good things in life. When I was in grade nine, I was in the academic class (9A) and we had an extra study block. The teacher asked us to vote on whether we wanted to keep the study block or take a typing class for five extra credits. I was the only one who voted against the typing class. I had a fear and dread of learning to type. When I look back at that now, I realize how foolish it was. But to me, typing was for "those other kids who weren't so smart..." What a silly idea.

My life has been interesting, to say the least. It has been nothing like I imagined it would be, when I was a little girl playing hopscotch and riding my bike. I have met some interesting people and been involved in some interesting situations. But I have had to struggle, too, and I learned that I was a lot stronger than I thought I was. Who knew!

Sometimes we look back at our childhoods, and our home towns with a sort of wistful longing. "Oh, gosh, if only I could wave a magic wand and go back and start again -- only knowing what I know now." But that is not possible. We can only hope to impart some of our knowledge on the younger folks in our lives. My mantra is, "Get an education...!" If my family has heard that once, they've heard it a thousand times. But my mother always used to say, "You can't put an old head on young shoulders," so people have to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. Two of the novels written by Thomas Wolfe -- "Look Homeward Angel" and "You Can't Go Home Again" have this theme running through them. I read both of the books when I was younger, and did not quite understand what he was saying.

Wolfe should have written a booked entitled "It's Never Too Late". Instead of regretting that I did not get a university education, I should just enroll in school and get one. It's not too late. Not getting an education is my only regret, and now with the beginning of another school year, that little voice inside me is saying, "It's not too late -- do it!" How about you. If you could change just one thing, what would it be?-


Kathryn said...

My major! I did get a university education - but i wanted to be a psychologist. I never got that far & a B.A. in psychology is almost useless. I could have done so much more had i gone into nursing & then tried to pursue psychology.

But water under the bridge & i'm happy with my current profession (massage therapist) although, once again, i could do so much more had i done nursing first.

You were such a cutie Jo! You still are. I so enjoy your smiling face at the top of your blog. :)

Mary Ellen said...

Oh, I can't tell you how often I wished I could go back in my life and have a "do-over". I definitely wish I had taken my studies more seriously. Studying has always been difficult for me, call it "short-term memory" or whatever...memorizing facts has always been a challenge and to this day I'm always second-guessing what I write, or double checking my facts.

I don't think I could go back to school now, I've been away much too long and the advances in academics and changes in math are way over my head now. Heck, I look at what my young grandkids bring home from school and I'm lost!

Typing however, I type like the wind...which is evident by my consistent long comments. ;-)

Andrea said...

Oh please do it! If it's the only thing you really regret, you should definitely do it. I got my bachelors at 21 and then returned to school again in my early 40's. I was so much more interested in learning later in life than ever before! Please do it!

The Bug said...

I remember being told that I shouldn't learn to type - because then I'd always just be a secretary. No one had any idea about the advent of computers in business back then... I took typing anyway because, heck, I didn't want to have to write all my college papers long hand!

I wish I had been less focused on boys when I was younger. It distracted me from things that really matter. And I wish I had majored in english instead of accounting. I don't really use that degree & I would have enjoyed english so much more.

You should definitely go to school! You are the type of student that professors enjoy - the ones who are in school because they want to LEARN. Go for it!

Land of shimp said...

Jo, you can always take classes as a way to start. See if it really appeals to you, and go from there.

My son just started college. He's going to one of the state schools and living at home for this year. I bring that up because I hear about his classes as they happen. He's got two classes during the week that occur after five o'clock and he likes them best. There's a very diverse age range in there, and he said that all of the students in those classes seem actually interested in the subjects. The discussions are more involving, and the people are funnier.

I think people sometimes hesitate to take classes, or go back to school thinking that they'll stick out like someone with two heads. That isn't the case at all.

My son likes his day classes too, but for different reasons. More girls to talk to seems to be the main one ;-)

Also, continuing to learn, and expand intellectually is not exclusive to a formal education setting. As long as you have been continuing to learn throughout your life, you have been getting an education.

If not having a degree is something you regret, by all means, pursue one! You could do it with one hand tied behind your back.

I read your blog everyday, and say with conviction, you are a well educated individual. You have made sure to keep learning throughout your life, about a wealth of subjects.

Alissa said...

When I was 18 I had a job in an outlet store, and was planning on starting college in January, so I suppose I already was non-traditional. The assistant manager told me I should instead save up some money and go backpacking around Europe for several months. Perhaps less romantic, but still very interesting would have been taking the time driving across (and around) the country. I did neither of these things and continued with my safe and boring life, starting college in January. What I didn't realize then, of course, is that the older you get the harder it is to find the time to just take off and do these whimsical things.

The Panorama said...

Nice Jo:) I am like that too at this time of the year.

I did get an education - a two year degree in journalism about 2 years ago. I have a college degree from India but decided to do this to chase and old dream. Today am working in a newspaper that I really like. The pay isn't much but I love my job!

I am a single mom and still I managed this as a grown up.
What I am saying is: it is never too late to go after your dreams, Jo.

Bunny said...

I don't regret much. Not even dropping out of high school. I waited a little while and now I'm getting good grades in college - plus I value my education a LOT more then younger people!

The only thing I would go back and change would be the time I had an opportunity to go to London with my aunt - for FREE! My boss at my not-so-great part time retail job wouldn't give me the time off. I would go back and quit right now if I could!

Go back to school; you certainly won't regret it. I work at a community college, and I can tell you that our students come from all different age groups, cultural backgrounds, and have various levels of school and work experience. You won't stick out at all - and learning new things is fun, now that you're old enough to appreciate it!

Brenda said...

This time of the year is a reflective time for me also. I have a desire or thought here and there of wishing I had a degree, but to be perfectly honest, even if I had one in one field, I would probably wish I had chosen a different path. I am a restless sort I suppose. I have way too many interests in life to choose one.
I always say try it at least, if you really want to do it...go for it!

PhilipH said...

I feel sorry for the majority of young people going to uni nowadays in the UK.

To start life with, on average, a debt of £20k by way of student loans, in the hope of getting a decent job later on, is not a good thing, imo.

And the jobs market shrinks as more kids get degrees. It's not quite the same world as 20 years ago.

larkspur said...

I heard that little voice after my mother died-she always regretted not finishing college. I had wanted to go back for my masters after my kids were grown, so at 54, that is what I did. It is never too late, but it is different than when I was 30 and went back to get my bachelors. Being older, I don't have the hunger or the passion for the career as much as the learning...

robert said...

Good morning Jo,
so many things you write about, happening in my life as well.
Having to learn how to write on a typewriter in school was one of the worst lessons ever had - with an also not too good mark as well.
We were also told to learn 'short writing' which until today I use, same can be said for typing on a keyboard ;)
Starting a new year, a new life in may only imagen how right you are on this one.
What I would change? - Indeed would like to say Education as well. Listening to my inner voice from the start on.
Please have a nice Friday.

Cyth said...

It was good to read your story about not wanting to take typing. I too didn't take typing, concentrated on my "academics". I did go on to college, and again , and again. Tried taking typing 3 times , as it was very difficult typing my papers, but I NEVER finished one typing class. Shame on me. I write to you now, using two very dextrous fingers and constantly searching for the right key. Shame on me.
I guess we choose the roads we do for some as yet unexplainable reason. I don't look back too often. I keep hoping that there's still lots ahead. And so too for you--lots ahead. Life's just one whopping big education, school's comparatively little. Seems you're doing great.

Nancy said...

Do it!! I re-entered college as an adult and it was the best thing I did for myself. It is not too late. Open the door and see where it leads...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I once failed a friend in need because I was too worried about the opinion of others. That is my one greatest regret and for many years I would dream of this friend asking me why I did it and I would wake with a feeling of great remorse.

I like what you said about not being too late to go to school. You really should consider it. Unlike my regret, you can still act on yours.

Carol E. said...

1) Wish I could buoy myself up and take away my extreme self-consciousness and shyness as a teenager.
2) Wish I had majored in anthropology instead of French, although both would be about equally "useful."
3) Wish I'd been lots more patient with my kids as they were growing up.
4) Mostly I hope and pray that I can learn everyday and open myself up to the glory of life so that I make FEWER regretful decisions.

Marguerite said...

It's never too late is right! Go for it! Just being around college kids will take 10 years off. I am planning on pursuing my masters degree in Fine Arts, next year. But be careful what you wish for, with the kids. I always taught my children that same thing, "get a good education". But now, my kids can't stop getting a good education and have become career students. I have one who is pursuing a law degree,(only 3 more years), and the other one, working on a second bachelors.(only 2 more years) Even my son-in-law is in med school.(only 4 more years) No time to have kids of their own, any time soon. Cheers, Jo!

Happiness said...

Jo, you must do it! Like you, when I was a little girl, I always knew that university was for me. However, at eighteen I was not able to go after my dream due to various circumstances. So I waited and worked for seven years, and when I was twenty-five I had that opportunity. At the time, I thought I was very old to be starting uni (tee hee!), but in my first week I met all sorts of extraordinary people, including a woman who was starting out at the age of 61. She had just booted her husband out, and decided that she was going to chase her own dreams. Well! She was the smartest, funniest, wildest most inspiring person on my course. Everyone loved to be near her, and learning was easier for her than many because she had a wealth of life experience on which to hang the new learning. She had an open mind, and an open heart.

Do it! Do it now! You know the old saying: we never regret the things we have done; we regret the things we never did.

Get on to the university forthwith! Then report back to us on how GREAT you feel. We will all be waiting.

ivan said...


It's easy. Take an extension course At UBC,say in English Survey--almost your specialty. Do it now if it's not too late to register for the fall. Arrange your work schedule around that one or nights a week. You will be surprised at how well things will fit in. As time goes by, you'll be surprised at how the credits pile up.

But my favourite joke:

"Whom are you?" she asked, showing she'd been to night school.

Brandywine said...

It is not too late! I didn't go to school when I was young,(which is a major regret), so now I'm in class with students young enough to be my children. I think school is more difficult at my age for a variety of reasons, but it still immensely satisfying.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My mother was forced by her parents to quit school at 14 to help support the family and she resented it bitterly, especially since she advocated for her three younger siblings, two of whom became doctors, the other a teacher. After raising her own family, she went to college in her 70's and graduated at age 79 with honors. It is never too late to do what you want to do in life. Remember: Where there's life, there's hope.

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