Saturday, January 11, 2014

A School Kid Again

We're told that life is cyclical so it must be true, right? I've always been happiest in a classroom and it seems that every twenty years or so I'm drawn back to school. In the late '60's I entered my freshman year at college with such exuberance that no one could have put me down. I was bursting with confidence, felt a kinship with my new friends, and raved about every professor who took the time to impart his - yes, mostly men - knowledge upon this tabula rasa.

In the late '80's I had fallen to the lowest point in my life. Newly divorced, relying on friends for meals, and working three jobs to keep my home, I made a huge leap of faith and entered the master's degree program for future librarians at the University of South Florida. It was an inspired act. Cashing in my IRA to cover the costs, I appeared on campus for my first class, brand new shiny texts clutched in sweaty hands, plastic smile plastered to my face.

Forty-five students were in the room and my stomach clenched when the teacher asked us to introduce ourselves and tell a bit about our background. Forty-four of them were already working in public or school libraries. I stammered out that I was a real estate broker and the teacher, who shall forever remain nameless, barked out a laugh. Please, God, I begged the being I'm not even sure is there, let the floor just open up and swallow me now. She continued, "You'd better work with a good group."

Hmmmm-sometimes that's all it takes. When the gauntlet is thrown down, some of us slink away and some of us snap it up. I worked with wonderful people and worked on my own. I landed a job in the library system and moved up the ladder. Three years later this same professor handed me my diploma and never even knew that she had nearly undone me.

So here I am again, twenty years further on and back in school.  What a difference! The Florida Gulf Coast University campus is a most welcoming place. Of course, it's no longer a matter of life or death for me. Now I'm there to have fun, to broaden my horizons, to observe and absorb without the pressure of shooting for all A's. The trepidation I felt upon arriving at the class melted away the minute I began talking with the journalism students.

Bright, vibrant, and open, they interacted with the professor with confidence and ease. The teacher, too, is warm and inviting, fair and kind. Did I learn all this in one evening? Of course not. But one gets a feeling and goes with it. If I'm not writing as much as usual over the next few months it's because I'm diligently doing my homework so that I can learn to communicate with you in a more forthright and distinct way.  But don't worry, dear readers. I know that you're all brainiacs. Even though we're admonished to write on a 6th-grade level, I'll still treat you like the brilliant readers I know you are.


Jessica said...

I think you'll also bring a lot to the class "Miss Reviewer of the Year" for LJ! Loved what Barbara wrote about you and her plug of the blog!

Gloria Drake said...

Had to laugh at your first "return to school" experience as it really echoes my own. In library school at age 48, I was the only one with no library work experience. One professor was really rude, but fortunately some excellent classmates helped with the lingo, etc. Now in my 5th year as a reference librarian and loving it.

Sallyb said...

Thank you Jess. I was so proud of that, as you can imagine. Falling behind on blogging though. I feel rude reading when company's here.

Thank you responding Gloria. I love to make people laugh. The irony of that whole thing was that it was much more difficult to pass the real estate broker's exam than it was to get the MLS. It's all about what interests us, isn't it?