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Why did I believe I wasn’t smart enough for a Bachelor of Science degree? It was one of the many thoughts my mind sifted through as I was decluttering papers from my safe.

Similar to other areas that attract messiness when tucked away, my safe was full of paper 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 B’s with a dash of A’s and C’s. Considering how little effort I put in school, it is a surprise that I managed average 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. Perhaps, it’s what I strived for after moving so much. Average was a whole lot better than “the new girl”. 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 probably wasn’t. Ironically, I didn’t feel smart enough to handle the rigors of a science degree. Yet, at seventeen, I felt hardy enough to enlist in the military.

A DARING CHANGE

When I enlisted, I knew that whenever I finished my contract, be it four years or twenty, I was going to get a college degree because I had signed the paperwork for the GI Bill and paid my dues.

The confining structure of military life and less than ideal supervisors were reasons for my short four-year contract. Or at least, that is what I remember fourteen years later.

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

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

A SCIENTIFIC REBELLION

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, plenty of fun courses, and, most importantly, 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 when I was confirming my major, I changed it from pharmacological to natural resources. This quick degree change was unusual since I tend to plow through big decisions with copious amounts of time and at least one pros versus cons list. However, this felt right like a warm embrace of my future. Plus, I would be taking a bunch of classes about plants and animals? How could I go wrong?

A DEGREE IN DEFIANCE

The first semester was the hardest. Probably because I doubted myself constantly. Finding success in the Navy was easy. I did what people told me to do. In college, I had to develop my own idea of success, and worse, I had to figure out a plan and stick to it. No supervisors to update or comrades to commiserate with, just one girl trying to figure if she was doing it “right.”

Thankfully, I was, and continue to be, stubborn. Even when it’s hard and there are tears. After a while, the struggle got easier and the expectations became obvious. I continued to struggle with other parts of the college experience but overall I felt like I was accomplishing the right things. At least my grades were better than average.

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

As I reflect on the tides of time, I realize just how far I have traveled and how much I have accomplished from 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. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

  3. 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

    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. 😉

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