I remember when I decided I was going to go to the University of Wisconsin. I was going to be a writer, a journalist, Dan Rather, William Sapphire. I was going to be a lawyer, a regular Efram Zimbalist Junior. I know he wasn’t a lawyer, but what a cool name if we was….
So, I did something called Integrated Liberal Studies, a two year program for really smart people in the humanities, smart beyond my belief. I never felt I belonged, but I loved it, and I grew.
But, there were all of these smart people, from great places all over the world. I’d never been on an airplane. How did I belong to this group? People always said they were impressed with me, but I never saw it.
While I was in school, I worked. I worked in a nursing home in recreational therapy. I worked mostly with old people, getting them out into to community, normalizing their lives. To me, it was a practical thing. These people had lives before they got into the home. Wouldn’t they want to do the things before they got themselves into that situation?
So, I took them to things they did, not things we thought they should do. I took people into bars, shot pool. We played cards, went to community festivals. People had actual conversations with “regular” people. We went to games. We went to church. I felt like my job was to extend their real lives while they were in the nursing home. And, it worked.
But, back to school. I transferred to the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, not because I didn’t love Madison. But, Whitewater had a good journalism school with this great class in advertising. So, I went. And, I did well and…..
While I was in Whitewater, and Madison, for that matter, I was in contact with a company regarding a job. I contacted them once a month for three years. I was offered a job after my junior year (less than 10 credits short of graduation, and all major work completed) for $42,000 a year (this was 1979, in the middle of our great malaise). I took it.
I took it for a lot of reasons. It secured my future when futures didn’t look so great. I took it because I grew up on a farm and really never had a lot. I took it because it validated me.
Do I regret it? Sometimes.
I’ve had a great career, and I’m a lifelong learner. Learning doesn’t stop because you’re not in a classroom. I decided I could learn. I could use my curiosity to my advantage, and I have.
But, I still have those feelings of inadequacy, especially when I’ve been around accomplished people, thinking maybe I could be accomplished, too.
And then it comes to me. I am accomplished.
I guess those feelings never completely go away.
This is a completely different blog than I intended to write.