An Education

by jdeena

All my life, I have been categorized as smart by my parents, family, and friends. I used to always have a comeback for everything said to me and I always argued (a lot of time just for the sake of arguing) and my parents told me in 5th grade that I needed to become a lawyer. From that day, the dream stuck. Anytime anyone ever asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would proudly boast “lawyer.”

Then came high school, and I excelled there as well. I was in honors English, Spanish, and Biology; I was Student of the Year. I was Section Leader in choir and my girls absolutely loved me. I did well in my classes, and in my Honors English class my senior year my teacher did something for me that I will eternally be grateful for: he submitted one of my poems to a contest and I was chosen as one of the Best Poets of 2000 and my poem was published in a book.

I was hooked; I wanted to become a writer.

I had written a lot during my high school years; my papers always received an “A.” My teachers loved reading my work because they never had to use much red pen to correct me. I wrote with passion, especially on subjects that were dear to my heart, such as Palestine. When it came time to apply for scholarships, I wrote an amazing essay on how I overcame and identity crisis in high school, where my suburban classmates knew nothing about my religion and culture and I had to hide who I truly was for fear of being shunned. I was admitted to the Honors Program at the university, and I received a scholarship that paid for half of my tuition for four years. My parents were so proud of me; I was so proud of me.

I never knew what college would hold for me. It was so overwhelming, and nothing could have prepared me for it. Not my honors classes, not my college prep courses, not the college visits. It was a whole other world and I was lost in it. I did exceptionally well in my English courses, but math and science held no interest for me. I got involved in Student Government which opened the door to other organizations. Before I knew it, I was a tour guide, writing for the school paper, on the student senate, an Ambassador for the honors program, and an officer for the Arab Student Union. Combine that with event planning, work, and public speaking engagements after 9-11 and schoolwork ended up taking a back seat.

Looking back, I know I should have made better decisions. I should have focused on what was important and made my schoolwork a priority, but I was so caught up in all of the fun that it didn’t matter to me. I regret the irresponsible decisions I made, but I don’t regret the course it took me on. I know that my life would be very different now if I had finished school. I could be in another city, working on my master’s, or have a job overseas as a lawyer.

But alas, I am not. I am in my room, typing this blog on my laptop. It’s funny how some people think that an education can only come from a teacher, in school. Isn’t life our own teacher though? We go through things and meet people along the way who shape our emotions and perceptions and eventually, it shapes who we become. The lessons never stop coming and we never stop learning and so in theory, we could always be evolving into a new person.

I know that everything I have gone through has made me the bitter, cynical and argumentative girl that everyone sees. I won’t deny those qualities about myself because really, who wouldn’t have that outlook after surviving certain life events? But I also feel that it has made me hopeful, compassionate, and determined. I want great things for my life; I want to be someone that will have made an impact. At my lowest points, I had given up all hope that would every happen. After all, I am a college dropout. With no degree, I am no one, right?

However, something came along and changed that perception.

That is the beauty of life; we never have to settle for what is, because come tomorrow, it will be what was.