Sunday, February 12, 2017

Action

In high school, juniors and seniors had an opportunity to attend the local community college with all books, tuition, and fees paid for by the state under the Post Secondary Education Option. This program was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of long before I even entered high school. It was a part of my master plan to attend BYU; something I had also determined at an early age was the only option for me.

I knew paying for college, especially one that was out of state, was going to be incredibly difficult. My parents were not wealthy and neither of them had earned a bachelors degree. So this was new territory for my family and one that made all of us nervous. But the promise of having an associates degree by the time I graduated high school seemed like an answer to a prayer that hadn't yet been given, and an opportunity that could not be wasted.

The PSEO program wasn't something that was highly encouraged by high school staff. I remember sitting in the meeting with our guidance counselor explaining how everything worked and feeling as though they were trying to dissuade us from even attempting. I had friends who wouldn't even consider going because the appeal and allure of high school--the 10 Things I Hate About You version, not the real-life experience--was too much to consider giving it up. But that didn't deter me. This was what I wanted and this is what I had to do.

Imagine my disappointment when I was told that I hadn't passed the entrance exam into the program.

It wasn't just disappointment. It was full rage and upset. Upset to my plans. My future. Everything that I was counting on hinged on this test, and I had failed. By one lousy point. I kicked a hole in the wall of our kitchen because I was so angry.

The test was pass or fail, so it didn't matter that it was by one point. A fail was a fail. And I had to face the idea of attending high school for my junior year. Something I did not want to do. Something that I knew would interfere with my plans for going to BYU.

I could not accept this outcome.

I did not accept it.

I found out that the only way for me to be accepted into the PSEO program was to take an 0900 level class during the summer. I had to pay for it out of pocket, and I had to pass it. If I did that, I could attend Edison as though I had passed the test.

So I found a way. I'm sure my parents helped pay for that class. I also assume that many of my Bob Evan's paychecks went toward the $350 or whatever tuition was at the time. I took the class that summer, and I was admitted into the program. And by the time I was ready to apply for BYU, I was on track to have my AA. I was accepted and my plans were back on track.

The experience taught me that I did not have to accept the terms that were being presented to me. That there are multiple ways to solve a problem, if you are just willing to ask and act.

I fought for my degree at BYU. And in the end (after too many years) I graduated.

Again, my plans were on track. But I had accomplished the thing that I had set out to do, and now my goals were a lot less concrete. There isn't a course that you can map out for "get married and have babies." It isn't like college. In order to be accepted into college, you know you need 1) good grades, 2) decent recommendations, 3) a show of responsibility in either clubs, service organizations, or jobs. You know what you have to do to get in. And you know what you have to do to stay in. And if you do A, B, and C, you get the Degree.

But marriage and babies are a different story. The goal line remains elusive while the clock continues to count down. No amount of asking and acting has yielded any results. In the meantime, you fill your life with distractions. Some more meaningful than others. But on days when the distractions fail to work, and you feel as though you are just being handed one consolation prize over the next, it is frustrating. It is unacceptable.

We're told to live "productive, faithful, and grateful lives." But none of those feel like real actions toward accomplishing the things you want the most. They feel so passive, as though you are just sitting, waiting for the thing to happen to you, instead of making it happen for yourself.

I don't know how to not feel that way. I don't know how to make faith an action instead of it feeling like the equivalent of wishing on a star or throwing a penny in a well. All of it seems to give the same results. We are supposed to have faith in the Lord's timing. But that feels like a copout. Or contrary to the belief that "God helps those who help themselves." I believe in making things happen for myself. I also believe that God supports me when I do. We are grateful when we find the person we are supposed to be with, and credit God and His goodness. But we aren't to feel bitter and resentful while we are still waiting, as if He is somehow withholding blessings from us.

But agency plays into all of it too. And when you are involving the agency of another person, how do we know if it is timing, your actions, or the actions of the other person that is keeping it all from happening? I don't know that it is any of the above. Sometimes I think you just need luck and happenstance.

When I was applying to go to college, I didn't apply to a single other college than BYU. It was the only school I had considered. It was the only school I wanted to attend. When I hadn't received my acceptance letter after some weeks, I began to wonder if I should consider another alternative. If I should pick another option. I couldn't imagine what life at another school would look like. It made me sick to think of it and incredibly sad. If I didn't get into BYU, what was I really going to do with my life? Utah was my destiny.

I waited for weeks and began to think that I really needed to have a backup plan. I started my application to OSU. To Liberty University. I tried  to consider BYU-I or SUU. I did my research. I tried not to cry at the thought of having to abandon the thing that I had been working toward since I was in fourth grade.

When I got my acceptance letter, finally, and was able to abandon all  the other applications before paying application fees and writing too many essays I cried with relief.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm starting to wonder if I need to consider alternative plans. And it makes me sick and exhausted and panicked. I keep going back to the end of my high school career and feeling that same worry that things are not actually going to work out. That for all my preparation and hope and work, I was not going to make it.

You don't have much control over whether or not romantic love and pairing off is in your future. You can put yourself in the awkward situations that arise from trying to date; make sure that you remain social and open to new people, and hope that something works out.

It may never happen.

It doesn't matter how much you fill your life with productivity, faith, and gratitude. It still may never happen. And no matter how much I know that, I still find the whole thing intolerable. Unacceptable. But clueless as to how to change the cards. Where is the extra class I need to take? What is the extra steps? It's not so simple, because there are no guarantees.

I want to be fine with that. But accepting it opens up a lot of other things that I have to accept. And I'm not ready to do that. I'm not ready to start filling out the "other applications." But I'm feeling the pressure of the shot clock. And I'm nowhere closer to the basket.

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