I’ve just begun my second semester at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In the fall I took a Creative Writing class and fell madly in love with the notion of myself as a student, even as a woman in my mid-forties. I proved that I could succeed, I learned so much from my professor, and I gradually became aware of my weakest areas as a writer (story structure, stakes and imagery).
Now I’m enrolled in two courses on Mondays. In the morning I’m doing a third year course in YA Fiction with the same prof from the fall term and in the afternoon I’m in a first year English requirement class every student must take.
When I get home at 4:15 on Mondays my brain is a lumpy oatmeal-like mush but my soul is fulfilled and accomplished. I can literally feel myself becoming a better writer. My skills are sharpening up and my critical thinking abilities are waking up from hibernation.
We must all challenge ourselves. If you are terrified of something, whether it’s making a fool out of yourself, public speaking, traveling to a developing country (not a shithole one, though, as any sane person knows there is no such thing because all countries have redeeming qualities), taking a class or confronting someone when they are being offensive, by all means: DO IT. The longer you wait, the more power it has over you.
A long time ago I heard my beloved Rob Bell suggest that we write the word “student” on an index card and carry it around in our pocket to remind us that we are always learning. None of us ever have life figured out. I loved this idea and carried this card around for months.
Now I am actually a student. I’m working part-time as a background performer in Vancouver’s vibrant film and TV industry and it’s fun, educational and endlessly fascinating. It also pays for my classes and textbooks. This makes me feel both proud and satisfied, like I’ve given the best of myself to my kids, my husband and my community for the last fifteen years but now, hot damn, I am also building into my own career and education. And I love it.
We always have more to learn. Increased ways to grow and fears to face head-on. My anxiety over plane travel and possible turbulence has been aided by flying weekly last winter and this one for speaking engagements at teachers’ conferences in other provinces. Thinking about what scares us does not help us to overcome. We need to actually do it in order to break its hold on us.
Every one of us is a student of life. The key is to remain open-minded with a soft heart so we can adapt to the unique challenges we face. We can’t plan for every outcome, but we can build up our confidence and resilience by trying new things and succeeding.