Simone de Beauvoir

Friday, June 11, 2010

Non-Traditional Thoughts

A few years ago, I made the decision to return to college and finish my degree, which I had started upon graduating high school. OK, honestly, the decision was basically made for me: my husband left, my job was being dissolved, and I wasn't able to afford the house payment, let alone gas in the car, heat and A/C, and that lovely necessity, food. It was painfully obvious that a college degree really was the key to a brighter--financially stable--future.

During my junior year of high school, I applied to various colleges--"Attempt Number 1" as I lovingly call it--with an interest in Psychiatric Social Work. Why? It sounded impressive and a very handsome guy told me that was his profession. OK, I was 17 and hormones ruled. I chose and was admitted to, the one school which had an excellent Masters level Social Work program. My youthful innocence decided that my undergrad degree would be a definite plus in my request for admission in the Masters program. Remember, I hadn't even moved into a dorm and I was already planning my Masters Degree.

Be that as it may, I began my nicely organized, purposeful plan to obtain two degrees and help everyone lead happier, healthier lives through counseling with me. Did I mention I thought I wanted to work in a hospital and NOT private practice?

One thing led to another and before I knew it my plans went awry. REALLY awry.

First there was that whole declaring a major thing. After a few classes--sessions in classes, and not completing them--I decided I wanted to be a Journalism major. Oh, the thrill of scooping a story. The rush of working under deadlines. Yes, I was no longer helping people, now I was enlightening them. At some point, law sounded good, too. As a lawyer I would fight for justice and lock up all the "bad guys". The fact that such a career involved more schooling was insignificant. Afterall, I had a moral task ahead and so what if the world would have to wait a few years. The longer the world waited, the meaner, more evil, and more frightening the "bad guys" would be and the greater the thrill of locking them all away. Clearly, prisons would need time to expand, and while I worked on my degree, the prisons could prepare for the increase in population.

But wait!

At this point, I had a roommate who was a Marketing major. I loved the creativity in that field, but an "F" in Accounting proved I was going to have to put for the some effort. Let me explain my "F". It was a direct result of the sweetest, most loving young man EVER. No, he wasn't a hunk, but he was so kind. Smart, too. Did I mention he was an Accounting major? So, I tried the Accounting class and didn't attend. Why attend when my boyfriend could tutor me and we could study together. SO romantic. OK, so I spent way too much time getting lost in his blue eyes, daydreaming about our future--five sons, a house in Connecticut, you get the picture--that I glazed over the Accounting lessons. He did most of my homework as he tried to help me. So, the final rolls around and I am clueless as to what to put in which column. Clearly any company for which I ran the books would be bankrupt in about thirty seconds.

Aha! If I was a Communications major, it would be a Liberal Arts degree--and no nasty Business courses--and I could possibly get one of those coveted positions in marketing. Another quick change of majors and all was well in the world. Or my academic world.

Then something happened: a little nasty letter from the Academic Affairs folks stating something to the effect that there were standards for continuing and if my GPA didn't reach that standard, well, perhaps, I might want to re-think a college career.

My brain was working overtime and figured out a solution: secretarial school. Yes, there is such a place where one learns those highly-coveted skills as typing, shorthand, and transcription. I was going to get a marketing job in a non-traditional way: become an Executive Assistant, learn everything and be given the position based on stellar achievements. I wouldn't even need that silly little degree. I finished the program, honed my skills, and was offered a job, which I took. I was on my a career path.

Did I mention the job was in the SHIPPING industry? I was the receptionist. A minor setback, but nothing this determined young woman couldn't overcome. I laughed at adversity.

Fast forward a few years. . . worked my way up the corporate ladder to department secretary (a whole step up from receptionist), married, had children, and settled in as Mom. Fast forward a few more years, and I'm jobless, divorcing, and just about to become homeless. What choice did I have but return to school !?! :-)

But wait ~ there was that dreaded box ~ the "INTENDED MAJOR" box. UGH! My nemesis. So this time, I've only changed three times. Yes, it's a personal best.

How does this all relate to my focus of comparing my life with that of Simone de Beauvoir?

Well, the most obvious connection is that we are both famous in our own worlds. There are probably those who may take issue with my down-playing the reputation of Ms. de Beauvoir, but can you honestly tell me that anyone who is not familiar with Gender Studies/Women's Issues/FeministTheory has ever heard of her?

Another connection is that neither of us did things "the old-fashioned way". Yes, tradition is great; non-traditional is much more fun! More on that later. Now I must have more coffee.


  1. Nice post. Ever figure out what you want to be when you grow up?

  2. I am a work in progress. Technically, I have eliminated a number of careers, so I find myself feeling very positive about the situation. I believe that, as I am willing to try various options presented--as well as those yet to be presented--I will seek the career that God has chosen for me. As long as I keep an open mind, I will find the answer.