My Journey to Here: A Story of Higher Education – Part III

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The title explains that this is a story of higher education; but more than that, my journey to get here.  This true tale of my personal and educational history will help you to understand my convictions, beliefs, passions and weaknesses.  I hope it inspires, enlightens or at the very least, amuses you.

Part Three – Convictional Stirrings I: Mansfield and Coming Home

“…in August of 2012 I went off to live on campus at Mansfield University as a Broadcast Communications major, and then, two weeks later, I withdrew and came home.”  To understand this statement from my last blog post we must go back to where the story begins.

When my passion and active pursuit of truth in history and politics began, I spent a lot of time studying and watching the news and figuring out where I stood and what I believed.  I still watch the news and I still study history, but that time that I spent totally immersed in this truth-seeking mission helped grow me as a person.  It helped grow me intellectually and spiritually, and brought life to a sick, young kid.

I watched the news and heard depressing stories about the economy and unemployment rates.  I sat down and just watched the national debt calculator go up and up and up.  (Try it.  It puts everything into perspective. ) I’ve studied about the great men and ideas and beliefs that are at the root of this country, and became torn between the history I love and the future I’m afraid of.  These concerns are where the story begins.

From the very beginning of the college search, money was a great concern.  In the interest of finding a really good broadcasting program, I looked into a lot of expensive schools.  There are some really awesome programs out there, if you’re willing to go way into debt.  I was not.  In fact, Mansfield University was the only place I even applied to.

Yet, even at a “cheap” state school I had to take out pretty sizeable loans.  The very idea of the cost was off putting.  When I started the FAFSA process, I felt uneasy.  Looking at the financial aid package, I was battling with myself.  I thought that getting out of the area and living on my own was what I needed to be able to really put my illness behind me and start fresh, but there was so much about the financial aspect that bothered me.

I tried, but I did a poor job communicating my feelings with my parents.  (Bet that shocked absolutely no one I know… you don’t get labeled “emotionally stunted” for nothing!)  The summer that led into my departure for college was one filled with many, many work hours.  I didn’t even have the time to fail to communicate my concerns with my parents.  (So I’m a terrible communicator going into a communications major, what’s wrong with that?)  Oh well, I would just go off to school and forget all about it.

I didn’t forget all about it.

I felt… icky.  I didn’t know why.  I can’t even explain it.  I just know that in the spring of 2012 I was the best version of myself I had ever been and I couldn’t quite figure out how to get back to being that person.  There was something inside of me that made everything harder beyond the difficulties of the expected “adjustment period.”  I felt like something was wrong.

One day, I was working on one of my first homework assignments in my dorm room while watching Fox News.  As you may recall, August of 2012 is when Hurricane Isaac charged in with a brutal force.  I watched the coverage on this tragic storm for hours.  Strangely, that’s when everything began to make sense.  I don’t know what it was about that storm, but while I sat there wishing I could be there helping with the relief efforts, every concern I ever had was coming back to me.

My answer to anyone who ever asked me “why don’t you go into politics?” was always this: “I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

The broken government financial aid system is something that bothered me before I even got into college.  Even though I pay into the grant system, taking money out of a broken system will only create more problems.  I didn’t want to be at school on government money and I really didn’t want to go into debt.  I’m not saying that it is wrong to utilize a program that you pay into in order to help you further your education, but I know it wasn’t right for me.  I came home to pursue a cheaper, more affordable option.

No one really understood why I came home, and that’s okay.  I dealt with a lot of questions and a little judging, but in the end the only answer that made sense was “I did what made sense for me.”  And maybe, if I’m completely honest with myself, there are other factors that contributed to my wanting to come home.  Contrary to what I wanted to believe, I did not have a handle on my illness.  I still don’t.  There were projects I started that I wasn’t ready to give up on, and possibly the biggest reason of all was simply that my dog is here.  I cannot live without my doggie.

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