by Gina Sestak
Did it ever seem as if you ought to be feeling older than you do?
I just turned 59 on Saturday. Yikes! When I was in my teens, I thought that I would have life figured out be now, but no such luck. Nearly six decades old, and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.
I have always been very immature for my age. Even as a child. When the other kids were making rational decisions based upon the down to earth pragmatic things that they'd been taught, I found that I was lost in dreams, seeking comprehension in the made-up parables I read.
Don't get me wrong. I always managed to pay my rent, although I sometimes did forgo food. I know how to survive in waking reality. It's just that, when faced with decisions, I often opt for the impractical.
Take college, for example. As I've mentioned in prior posts, neither of my parents graduated high school. They didn't see a need for higher education, and they had neither the money to pay my tuition nor the sophistication to help me seek financial aid. I grew up knowing that I could never go to college, but I saved up some money from a part time job behind the counter in Murphys and took the SAT just to see how I would do. I scored in the 96th percentile; 4th highest in my academic high school, although I had been shunted early on into the secretarial track. "This doesn't gel," the guidance counsellor kept saying when she reviewed my scores. She couldn't understand how I did so well in math when I'd taken only the basic courses, even after I had explained how I'd drawn dots and diagrams in the margins, counting them to guess which formula might be the right answer. She sent me for non-verbal IQ testing just to see whether the SAT had been a "fluke." It hadn't been. With her encouragement, I applied to Pitt. By then it was too late to take the National Merit exam, so I had to rely on applying for financial aid. I didn't get it. No one believes it when you say your parents won't support your education. A mature person, a practical person, at that point would have given up, or looked further into sources of assistance, or found an employer willing to fund courses, or enrolled part time at night, or pursued any of a dozen other ways of going to school. I just threw caution to the wind and went, working crummy jobs, being homeless some of the time, selling blood plasma to survive.
Now I'm at the stage of life when a practical person would be saving for retirement. Instead of squirreling away every penny I can get my hands on, I'm working part-time and taking classes. Not practical classes -- no MBA for me. I'm studying filmmaking(!!!!), a field that I have absolutely no chance of entering, let alone making a career of. And yet it interests me, so I throw caution to the wind and go.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this blog -- do I expect encouragement or censure? I'm not sure. You decide.