We are meant to grow, mature, and blossom – no matter how much emphasis society places on youth and avoidance of aging, no matter how averse we may feel toward growing old – or growing up. At some point, it really does become do-or-die; seeds are meant to grow into seedlings and then become mature plants producing fruits or flowers. Saplings are meant to grow into trees providing shade and homes for creatures; they are not meant to be “forever young”. People are meant to leave childhood behind and blossom into mature adults who provide love, shelter, and guidance to their own children, and love and service to other people.
Many years ago my grandfather pointed out to me that some people never grow up, no matter how old they get. For some reason, I decided I wanted to be one of those people, and I spent the next several decades doing everything I could to avoid becoming an adult. I got married and motherhood became an excuse for avoiding the world. I worked odd jobs, and I did a lot of hard work and menial labor, and every now and then I would enroll in college courses to make a half-hearted attempt at completing a Bachelor’s Degree. Before I married, I did complete an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts, but eventually I came to believe I had nothing to offer the world besides my ability to clean office buildings and nurture my children. And I really didn’t want to offer anything else to the world.
Several years ago I found myself in a legal disagreement over a life insurance policy; the insurance company denied me a benefit I believed I was entitled to and I spent weeks doing legal research to prove that I was right and the insurance company was wrong. Those weeks were well spent; I received a tidy sum for my efforts, and I spent a considerable chunk of it on tuition for paralegal school. I had found a passion, and I excelled at legal study. Unfortunately, I let a family problem interrupt my progess…as a matter of fact, I completed the entire paralegal program except for the final exam. I used the excuse that I wanted to have no part in the legal system; true, I’d had some pretty awful experiences with the legal system, especially the one that interrupted my studies, but in retrospect what I really didn’t want any part of was the world itself. I did not want to have anything – like a certificate – that proved I had some real ability to do something more than be a janitor.
In February 2011 I was in an auto accident, which put an end to my doing janitorial work. I had been thinking about returning to school, again, but I didn’t have a clue what I might want to do with my life. My children are getting older, and in a few years they will have all left home; I realized I was going to have to find something to do, but the world still seemed more scary to me than interesting. But, when my husband brought home a pamphlet about a school that offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies, my heart leapt; it was apparent to me that I still had a keen interest in Legal Studies. Eventually I enrolled in Kaplan University’s Advanced Start Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, with every intention of going to law school. I began classes in May 2011, and did not give up. Not this time.
Once I began classes this time around, I realized something had changed; I had focus, which I’d been able to muster on occasion in the past, but better yet I had determination. For the first six months the only future in my mind was the one where I’d completed my Bachelor’s Degree. I still could not envision anything beyond that, and I didn’t try, especially as I began to realize that law school is not a good idea – not for anyone in this economy, and certainly not for me in particular. I am not cut out to be a lawyer. Fortunately, right about the time this realization was developing, I began a Law and Society class, and from the moment I watched the professor’s multimedia introduction I knew my post-graduate future was beginning to unfold.
That semester, I began photographing all sorts of things to send to Professor Oz, and I made the first videos I’ve ever made in my life. The Great Oz actually called me one morning, and told me “you’re the only one of my students who ‘gets it'”. I suppose what he meant is that I understand that law is not boring, that it is something that needs to be communicated about to the public, and that communication about law and society can be as interesting as anyone cares to make it. For the first time in my life I had a real vision for my future; I could envision my future in terms of something besides hiding away at home and leaving for a few hours in the evening to go clean office buildings. And I had discovered that I enjoy photography and videography; I realized that my future was not in Legal Studies, but in Communication. I began to make plans for graduate school, and as I write this I am a mere nine weeks from completing my Bachelor’s Degree.
I can no longer imagine applying for a janitorial job. I can no longer imagine a day that I don’t take photographs, or write. I can, though, imagine a future that is much like my days are now, where I can hardly wait to get to work on the projects I have going. After all these years, I finally decided to grow up, to blossom. It became too painful to do otherwise.