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Why did I believe I wasn’t smart enough for a Bachelor of Science degree? It was a brief thought that fluttered through as I decluttered papers from a safe.

Similar to other areas that attract messiness when tucked away, my safe was full of clutter like old bills, statements from credit cards I didn’t have anymore, and insurance I no longer use. I gradually combed through each manila folder and added more useless paper to the shred pile.

Eventually, I stumbled across an old progress report and an unofficial transcript from high school. This was my proof that I was an average student, mostly Bs with a dash of As and Cs. Considering how little effort I put in school, it’s a surprise that I managed any success.

It wasn’t the first time I wondered – why did I think I wasn’t smart enough for a Bachelor of Science degree?

Mindsets Matter

It’s hard to lay blame on any one reason. It could have been that I hung out with average students. It’s what I strived for after moving so much. Average was better than the new girl look I frequently got.

Whatever the reason, I identified myself as – average. Normal. Typical.

Either way, when my science teacher suggested I look into a Bachelor of Science degree, I was quick to respond, “I’m not smart enough for that.”

I hope it was said half-heartedly, but it wasn’t. Ironically, I didn’t feel smart enough to handle the rigors of a science degree. Yet, at 17, I felt hardy enough to enlist in the military.

A Daring Change

When I enlisted, I knew that whenever I finished at 4 years or 20, I was going to get a college degree. I signed the paperwork for the GI Bill and paid my dues.

After a less than enthusiastic experience with military structure and unpleasant supervisors, I decided to cut my military career to 4-years. Or at least, that is what is dredge up 14 years later.

Getting out and going straight into the workforce was similar to how I felt about joining the circus. I didn’t have the skills, let alone an idea of what I would be good at or, more importantly, enjoy. College felt like the kinder, gentler version of figuring out happy ever after.

After years of working in a field that brought little joy, I knew that I wanted to work somewhere fun and meaningful. This slow, persistent realization led me to agreeing to a science degree. I had to dig deep and rally myself for academic rigors; if I could survive the Navy, deployments, and 2 wars, I should have enough fortitude for a science degree. Amiright?

I visited a few universities in Wisconsin and settled on the one that felt right, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. It had a small, warm campus, with fun courses, and a giant library. Sure, the library looked like a prison, but it had more books than I had seen in a long time.

It felt like home.

During my orientation as I was about to confirm my major, I changed it from pharmacological to natural resources. This quick degree change was unusual since I tend to plow through big decisions in a slow methodical way with an extensive pros-versus-cons list. But, this instant change felt right like a warm embrace of my future and I soothed myself with the thought of taking a bunch of plant and animal classes.

What could go wrong?

A Degree in Defiance

The first semester was the hardest. Doubting myself constantly did little to help my nontraditional look. Navy success was easy, all I had to do was what people said which was basically show up. They used simple words and occasionally a drawing.

In college, I had to develop my own idea of success, and worse, I had to make a plan and stick to it. No supervisors to update or comrades to complain to, just one girl trying to figure if she was doing it right.

It was a struggle but my stubbornness to use the GI Bill is what powered me through grey days.

After a while, the struggle got easier, and the expectations became obvious. I continued to war over other parts of college, but I felt like I was accomplishing things. At least my grades were better than average this time but only after admitting I needed help.

Lots of help.

Copious amounts of studying, tutors, and less than ideal snack choices are how I propelled myself to higher grades and corresponding expectations.

It would take 4 and a half years, but I achieved my Bachelor of Science degree. My endorphins and ego got an extra kick in the pants when I was nominated by my professors for the Chancellor’s Leadership Award.

As I reflect on how far I traveled, how much I learned, and how much ice cream I consumed, I don’t even recognize the girl who didn’t think she could do a Bachelor of Science.

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7 thoughts on “A Bachelor of Science: A Daring Defiance of I Can’t Even Science

  1. Hey Red Waterbird! It’s great to hear from you. It sounds like you are continuing to dream big! I’m glad your cashing in on your experience. I hope it rains riches for you, just not the ones that your protecting. 😉

  2. Congrats I wish I could’ve been there and celebrate your little and big victories with the good ol’ song of “you’ve lost the loving feeling” and some shots. I too was in the same boat as you pun intended LOL I thought I would never be able to get a degree and actually use it! Here I am in charge and responsible for priceless items in the criminal justice field. Totally ONE EIGHTY from where I thought my life was heading in high school. hehehe

  3. Thank you, Steveark! I love Roosevelt, he had great quotes and ideas! I am glad you enjoyed the post and that it resonated so strongly. Also, big kudos to you for all your accomplishments!

  4. Good for you! I think a Roosevelt said “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”. I was the opposite, being one of the class brainy nerds. I automatically knew that I could handle any field of study without studying hard. But I was shy and didn’t think I could ever speak publicly or act or be a leader. Until I did like you, I stepped out and took on what I had thought was impossible for me and found out it wasn’t impossible at all. I could actually act and make speeches and be entertaining and run a big company. Who knew? Doesn’t it feel great when you bust through a wall like that? Great post!

  5. It is easy to share my wins but I still struggle when sharing my the losses.

    I appreciate that you joined the ride!

    Congrats on being one step closer to FIRE after selling the old RV!

  6. First off, good for you for decluttering your safe! And good for you for tackling that degree AND completing four years in the navy! Impressive! Love hearing about people’s journeys. So interesting.

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