Don’t Be Different?

When you grow up in a family that does not value college degrees or new ways of thinking, you become the family ostrich, or experience ostracization, if you pursue more knowledge or a college degree.

This is what happened to me when I went to college. First I was criticized for even thinking of giving up my forty hour a week “good job” to go into debt to get a college degree and a teaching job that I dreamed of having.

I don’t think my immediate family had any idea what I was going through as I struggled financially and in other ways to complete four years of college study with no family support.

I was very fortunate to be placed in a Work Study situation ,through the financial aid office, where I worked with people (fifteen hours a week) who valued me and helped me. I worked there the whole four years I was in college.

I enjoyed most of my classes and learned new ideas and new ways of doing things. I even tried new foods, but when I tried to share these delights with my immediate family, I was ridiculed and asked why I’d want to eat that? (I remember that question about mushrooms, but no matter what new experience I had, I learned not to share it at home.)

At first I went home every weekend, but by the fall of my freshman year, I wanted to stay on campus for the weekend. My then boyfriend, who picked me up every Friday to drive me home for the weekend stay at my mother’s, broke up with me because I just wanted to stay on campus and go to one of the school’s football games.

It seems whatever I did that made me “different” from how I was caused a rift between me and the person who did not want me to change – not one bit! No change, come back home where you belong, and forget that foolishness! seemed to be the messages I received.

But while stuck in that chasm of change, I looked from one side to the other and chose to be different. I still was teased badly if I used a big word no one used in my family. I never fit into my family’s needed perception of me after my college graduation. It seemed I wore my own scarlet letter, much as Hester Prynne wore, except my was a C for College while hers was an A, whenever I went home to visit.

The funniest part was my mother never understanding why I didn’t choose to come back home to live after finally graduating. None of my family attended my college graduation. I went through the ceremony and wanted to tell all the complaining other graduates who fussed about having to wear that hot gown to make their parents happy, that at least they were able to make their parents happy and to enjoy the day.




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