My last year of work was mentally rough. After being out on medical leave for two whole months following surgery, I got a taste of what it was like to be free from a corporate environment. I was burned out from re-enacting the same process month-after-month. I even told the head of my department that I didn’t want to see another spreadsheet again – in life. At the first lunch, I announced to my friend that I was going to enroll into the nearby community college to take classes that would help with a smoother transition to a full-time writer. I was already blogging and the now defunct Whole Living magazine had already shouted me out as community blogger of the month in its print issue. I took that as a sign to move forward.
I paid for my journalism and creative writing classes out-of-pocket so my first semester back in school was uneventful. Things didn’t go awry until I officially enrolled as a student, declared a major in public relations because there wasn’t a journalism or creative writing degree but PR involved heavy writing, and applied for financial aid.
I told my friend how I was deemed ineligible for financial aid because I allegedly didn’t declare a major. Turns out the school had post-dated my major to the fall as if declaring a concentration were a bank check. And the school consequently returned my loan funds to the federal government.
I straightened that out only to have the school delay my refund – money that I had earmarked for books, parking, food, essential living – and blame it on the state.
“Virginia decides when students get their refunds,” my financial aid counselor said.
Meanwhile, students at neighboring Virginia schools were cashing their checks. My life quickly became a big mess so, eventually, I withdrew from school.
“It’s only a test,” said my friend. “God just wants to see how badly you want it.”
I paused to take a sip of my drink and closely study my friend as she continued to speak.
She made a statement I’d heard as far back as I could remember and admittedly, one I whole-heartedly believed enough to repeat to someone else once, twice or thrice. But this time it didn’t sit well with me. It took me nearly a decade to figure out why...