Somtimes It’s Healthy To Throw In The Towel

Learning no one can take it awayWhat do you do when doing the right thing means giving up something that you love? You do it anyway because well… IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Right? Maybe? Ok, this is going to be painful and there will be some that won’t understand why but, for me, this is going to hurt.

I have decided not to return to my schooling for the time being. Those of you who know me really well are probably just as shocked to hear this news as I am to deliver it. For those of you who are wondering why this is such a big deal, let me see if I can explain.

I’m sick (well duh!) No really, I’m pretty gosh darn sick… a lot. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to feel like I’m a productive, kind, helpful, capable, and intelligent member of my family and society at large. Often because I am sick I am overlooked or swept under the rug by well-meaning individuals who feel that they are only protecting me. While I believe that those individuals truly have my best interests at heart they are actually missing the heart of the matter which is… I still matter! Or, at least, I hope I do.

The reason I decided to return to school was to stave off some of those helpless, inadequate feelings I’ve been fighting against. The process of pushing myself to reach that goal has been an important life-line in my mental and emotional well-being. The idea is that, while my body falls apart, at least I still have my mind and spirit and continuing my education was the outlet I used to be “apart” from myself. I need opportunities to think of things other than me. School provided that for me. It also required me to really stretch myself in a new and different way. For example, at first I returned with the intent of getting my degree in English Literature and eventually narrowing my focus to Library Sciences (yes you do need to go to school to be a proper librarian.) I did this for two reasons. First, I love reading and analyzing what I’ve read. I love the process of soaking in the writer’s work, processing it through my own life filters and then writing about it. Second, it required that I do little to no math. I used to hate math in high school so why put myself through it again?

Well, little did I know that one little astronomy course would sink itself so deep into my core that I would want nothing more than to trudge through the necessary math in order to learn about the stars. I felt so strongly about it that I promptly changed my major and went right back to square one. I’d avoided math like the plague so this change meant that I would need to start with college algebra and work my way through to physics. But I did it because, holy moly, I was in love with the idea of understanding a little bit more about the inner workings of the universe. Then as I progressed, a strange thing happened, I learned to tolerate… no wait, dare I say it? I learned to LOVE math. I know, I’m a nerd but hopefully I wear it well.

That brings us to my present circumstances. I have worked really, really hard. In fact, I’m going to toot my horn a bit because I’ve earned the right to do so through sheer force of will. I received 100 % on my college Calculus final. The department head notified me that I was only one of two students to do so and that getting that kind of grade on a college math final was a rare achievement. Go me! I had finally caught myself up to the point where I had all of the necessary prerequisites to take my first Physics and Engineering course. I should have started it this past semester but had to put it on hold for the unexpected surgery that I had in August. So I was excited when the realization hit that spring semester was fast approaching and, hopefully, in about 2 ½ weeks I’ll get the go ahead to ditch the crutches and wheelchair and be cleared to drive. I’ve worked really hard to get my body back in some semblance of order and return to “normal” life. Whatever that is…

I eagerly started looking on the college’s website for the spring schedule so that I could plan around the time when both of my boys were at school. That is when the trouble began. You can chalk these experiences up to whatever you believe in, the universe, God, fate etc. But I know that it was God’s Holy Spirit working through me providing guidance and direction. I pulled up the courses I would need and for some reason what I was reading didn’t make sense on the page.

Hum, this will be harder than I thought to explain. Let’s see…

I mean, I could read what was there, I could clearly see the times and places available but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how to make it all work out. Sure, there were plenty of options but I felt confused and the longer I sat there trying to work it out, the more muddled I felt. I heard a little voice in my head that whispered, “Maybe school isn’t such a good idea right now.” “WAIT! No, what?” Ugh, you know when you hear that little inner voice and you’d really like to ignore it but you also understand that ignoring it would be a very bad idea. “Uh oh,” I thought. So I began to really search my heart for the feelings that were there.

My heart told me several things. In many ways I was dreading school because I wasn’t sure I still had the physical strength to spread myself so thin while trying to care for my little family. I felt a little tiny bit of relief when I pondered the option of not returning at this time. I panicked a little when I thought of everything that I wanted to do in order to feel better. For instance, swimming more often for my physical strength, taking better care of my boys and being more emotionally and physically present for them, and, most importantly, strengthening my relationship with God. All of these goals would certainly be attainable while going to school, but, in truth, my health would suffer even more if I continued to spread myself that thin. My heart ached because I really do love school and I would miss it, not to mention that math prerequisites don’t last forever, if I left it now it would be much harder to return down the road. “Sigh”

This led me to devote my thoughts and prayers to a more clear answer.

Like I hadn’t received one already.

I knew what the right thing to do was but I was stubbornly holding to the last vestiges of my hard work. After all, I have just three semesters of part-time school left before I achieve an Associate’s Degree. That might seem silly to those of you who have your Bachelor’s or Master’s. But, because I had worked so hard and then gone all the way back when I changed my mind to climb that hill again, this achievement seems monumental to me.

I also find myself fighting feelings of failure. I need to remind myself that I’m not “dropping out” of school; instead, I am choosing a different path for now. I’m still not sure what that means, I have no idea what is in store but I know that the Lord has something in mind for me that will help me to grow and progress in different ways. Besides, I can always go back later…

So there you have it. I know there will be those who will try to talk me into continuing and pushing through the end. I also know that there will be many who support my decision knowing the other battles I face on a daily basis.

The most important thing is that I know that, although this will be a hard sacrifice for me to make, I will be doing what God wants me to do. I wish I could understand why. I wish that my path was laid out in front of me to examine and control at will but, alas, life isn’t like that. We are often asked, or prompted, to make changes in life that might not make sense. It may seem that we must act on faith and faith alone. That is a scary place. But I’ve decided that it doesn’t have to be because I’m choosing to have faith that what God has in store for me is even more glorious and wonderful than any set of plans I could have imagined for myself.

I guess sometimes it is healthier to just throw in the towel. For me, learning to accept my limitations is an ongoing process that continues to prove painfully difficult. I hate that any such limitations exist. I don’t like surrendering my will but that is probably why Heavenly Father is allowing me to suffer with my current afflictions. I really need to learn to surrender my limitations, weaknesses and my will to him.

You still may see me practicing my calculus or reading a really technical astronomy and physics book in my spare time. I know; problems of a nerd-girl right? In the mean-time I’m going to take a leap of faith and do what feels right. I’m going to do it even though it doesn’t necessarily make sense. I’ll do it even though it hurts and I don’t really want to. But I’ll do it knowing that I’ve had the courage to do hard things with faith that there are better times to come.

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29 thoughts on “Somtimes It’s Healthy To Throw In The Towel

  1. Hi! I’ve been a follower for awhile, but since I rarely visit my reader I miss many posts. Regardless, this one really spoke to me. I am SO impressed with how you tackled math and managed to drag that beast to the ground! I too specifically chose majors that avoided math entirely. It’s something I’m very insecure about and hearing your story made me so proud that a fellow math avoider faced her fear! It’s not easy, but you did it! As for walking away from school… I’ve done it MANY times. It took me 7 years to finish law school (only supposed to take 3!). I also completed half a masters degree in psychology, but had to make the choice you did. For me the reasons were different, the time and money involved did not add up to a significant enough pay out, nor did I have the necessary constitution to continue with that discipline. As a result I’m 50k in debt for nothing! It still irks me, but walking away was definitely the right choice (though I STILL struggle with it!). To you I say follow your heart and don’t worry! You can always return if and when you’re ready!

    • Oh thank you for your wonderful comment! Thanks for the pat on the back over math – it was scary at first but learned to love it! Thanks for sharing your experience of walking away from school for a while. I love that you finished law school even though it took you 7 years, sometimes I think it might be harder to go back after you’ve stopped so thanks for giving me courage to look forward to the future possibility of returning. Love it!

      • My husband always says if I don’t do it now I never will in regards to school. Then I remind him about law school. I might be slow, but if I really want it I’ll revisit it for sure!

  2. I understand your possition. I have been wanting to get at least an associate degree but I have had to take breaks. I hope to return to college again and get a degree one day.

  3. I can relate to how you are feeling. I’ve wanted to go back to school and get a graphic design degree. I’ve had it all figured out – even can do it all online now cheap but….my girls have needed me and now I also have to focus on my health issues. It’s frustrating at times but I’m learning to enjoy not being spread so thin. I hope you get to that point also

  4. Stina, I see from this post and past ones how much school means and meant to you. And many kudos to you for acing math, etc.!!! But I understand your decision. I don’t know how you did so much with kids, sickness and being a wife and then school, too!! Sometimes we have to limit ourselves. I don’t have kids and am on disability so my blogging was my “thing” and now I am thingless but I gave it up because with animal rights activism and looking for another job for my husband and following so many people and feeling to respond it was just too much. I was working hours every day 7 days a week and trying to manage the rest of my life which, granted, is small. Maybe we will both be able to go back to our dreams at some point. But snapping at my husband was the last straw and I knew in my heart it was because I was spread too thinly. I wish you success in school at some point but for now I think you absolutely made the right choice, however hard it was. Your blog is amazing and writing seems to come so naturally to you. I hope you will continue to keep that up. Hugs, Ellen xx

    • Thank you Ellen. You are always so loving and supportive, I truly appreciate it! I am looking forward to life without the complication of school. After it was all said and done I did find some relief in the fact that I will, hopefully, be a better wife and mother because of this decision. I’m so happy to hear from you and I appreciate that you are willing to keep in touch through my blog. That means a lot to me Ellen, thank you! Big Hugs, Stina

  5. I won’t try to convince you that you are making a mistake same as I won’t try to say you are doing the right thing. You are the only one who knows what is best for you and your family. And I admire you for your strength in taking this difficult decision. Sometimes being a grown up simply means you need to accept you can’t have it all.. And you never know what will happen in the future! A big hug!

  6. Nope I don’t think you are making a mistake and that little voice is saying you need the break. You know after everything I’ve gone through and the choice I had made to stop working for a while was the hardest choice for me to make. But now looking back I realized it was tje best decision I could have made. Now with therapy I am getting better and eventually will be back full time soon. It’s going to be a hard road to trudge but I will make it and this time next year you will be ready to start your scholastic journey again! Place your focus on getting stronger both mentally and physically and take it one day at a time. You can do this, I know you can my friend ; 0)

  7. I can’t believe I never found your blog until now! And I decided to comment and the first comment on this post is from Steph Mignon (one of my best friends IRL), so I’m kind of just blown away! I have Ulcerative Colitis, Lichen Sclerosus, and Hypothyroid–I’ve had UC for 10 years but this past year my life has been RULED by chronic illness and miscarriage. I also went back to school for something completely different–Nursing–and took the two hardest classes of my academic career, as I’m intimidated by math and sciences. So, I’ll be following your blog with great interest 🙂

    • Thanks for following! I am excited to get to know you better through your blog as well. It sounds like we have similar concerns and life interests! And isn’t it such a small world, love it! 🙂

  8. I am in such a similar place right now. But before I talk about me, lets talk about you! After working in this vague field of education technology while I was in college, I ironically learned that self-teaching is the way of the future. You can learn anything online and in books. There are countless professors who post whole lectures on YouTube and essays on blogs and it’s all free. I know that a degree is still very necessary in today’s world, but if you really want to learn just for the sake of learning, you truly have the world at your fingertips. School is different and I totally understand what a disappointment it is to not be able to return but if you’re defiant and ornery like I am, you can do it all in spite of circumstance. Heck…and I’ve done this before….if you feel up to it one day, just…wander on to a college campus. And there’s probably a speaker giving a free talk, or a large classroom you could slip in to unnoticed… and just soak it up. Find a syllabus online for a class and go through it yourself via library books and google. I can be done and it is done every day. Also be sure to check out iTunesU for podcasts of classes for just a couple of bucks. I helped put half that stuff online and I’d love to know it really helped someone!

    Stepping off my soapbox to selfishly talk about me now…

    My husband and I have recently felt so, SO sure it’s time to try and have a baby. Especially in church, we get such strong feelings of confirmation in this. We were so excited. We both got better jobs, worked overtime, saved money, and found the house for our family….then it was sold. Then we were denied a loan. We felt like we were soldering down this path laid by God and then suddenly hit a roadblock – hard. Then this past Sunday, the pastor explicitly preached on patience. Oh, the dreaded p-word. And we were like HELLO GOD, why did you get us all hyped up and working only to say whoooa, not so fast! So now we’re very bummed. Life feels unfulfilled and empty. Looking down the road all we see is more working and saving and worst of all – waiting. And it’s making life dull and depressing. Since there’s no way to know how long it’ll take to get approved and all that, there’s the fleeting hope that maybe today or tomorrow things will just fall into place. But the longer we wait, the less stock we put in that hope. Anyway, long story short, it sucks when God teaches us patience.

    • You. Are. AWESOME!!!! First of all, thanks for reminding me that it’s not always about the degree, especially for someone like me, who, enjoys learning purely for learning’s sake. Now on to you… My husband laughed at me several weeks ago when I turned to him and said, “I think that God is trying to teach me patience… …I wish I’d HURRY UP and learn it already!!!” After a brief pause he burst out laughing as he realized that I hadn’t even caught what I’d said. All I can say is, from my own experience, take it or leave it, is that when I do manage to have some patience and do it God’s way (although kicking and screaming the whole way sometimes) I am blessed with more than I even thought it possible to receive. So, as cliché as it IS to say this, hang in there… have patience… God does have a fantastic plan for you in which he will bestow blessings upon you which you will look back upon and think, “I had not even thought to imagine it this way but wouldn’t want it any other.” Oh how I love “writing” with you my friend! The trick now is to find peace in the mean-time right? This will be my prayer for you. 🙂

  9. You aren’t throwing in the towel. Sometimes it takes more courage and work to have faith and do what feels right especially if you have people telling you that you are making the wrong decision. Some of life’s greatest accomplishments don’t have diplomas or trophies or anything that others can see that say “accomplishment” but personally we know we have accomplished. You will have the option of continuing your education but maybe right now you will accomplish some great things because you aren’t in school.

    • I love, love this comment. This is just what I needed to hear today. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the thought that I need that outward proof of what I’ve achieved and yet I know that most of our greatest successes will go unnoticed by many. Thank you for this, it really made my day!

  10. What a brave choice. And a tough one. I commend you for being able to bow to life’s twists and turns. I remember when I left the corporate world, how painful it was. And yet, I knew in my gut something awaited. I just didn’t know what. It’s been better than I could have imagined. I am praying for the same for you. Passing up current good so future good can make its way to you . . .

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