I Hate to Admit . . .
I have been in and out of community college for fifteen years. I feel ashamed that I have never earned a degree.
I work as a tutor for university students, and the stress of imposter syndrome crushes me sometimes around my coworkers, and even my students. I don’t believe that college completion separates the smart from the not-smart, but I know the disparity between my own goals and my achievements. In light of my education goals, I see myself as a failure.
The reasons I have dropped out - wrapped up in my history of abuse - get to me the most.
My Education Timeline
I enrolled in my first college class way back in the summer after tenth grade. My strictly religious school couldn’t provide the class because they had problems luring math and science teachers.
I continued with community college courses throughout high school. I took a couple science classes for high school credit. I also jump-started my college career with extra math, sociology and psychology classes. I dreamed of multiple advanced degrees— all the knowledge I could handle.
I met my abuser (ex-husband) in February of my senior year in high school. I dropped out of college soon after my high school graduation because he punished me for going to classes and sabotaged all my study time.
After he and I moved to Oregon, I took another stab at higher education. I enrolled at Chemeketa Community College. The same scenario played out. He trashed the house or blew money whenever I left for campus. I tried an online class, but at my desk he stood over my shoulder griping about chores to do or food to prepare.
Shortly after leaving my abusive marriage, I took a course recommended by Napa’s Adult School. I completed the course, and then learned it wasn’t certified.Then I gave up for a while.
I returned to community college, beaming with joy, in 2012. A year and a half later, I had a really rough time with depression. It affected my ability to work and to perform in school. I had to divert all my time to taking care of myself and keeping on top of my finances.
I have now been back in school full-time for a year.
Why do I talk about something that I’m so ashamed of? I do it because I bet that at some point you thought, “oh, you don’t need to feel ashamed of that.”
If you did, I hope that you will apply the same compassion to yourself, whatever gnaws at the pit of your stomach.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.