I don’t think anyone grows up aspiring to get a GED. I think for the most part we all have this dream of graduating from high school, going to college or work, getting a job, making money, buying a house, having a family, and maybe a dog or two. I had the same dream. But somewhere along the way, life happened.
I am not a teenage statistic. I did not get pregnant or go to rehab. I was fairly normal, I suppose. But a series of events unfolded that eventually snowballed into my dropping out of high school halfway through ninth grade. A ninth-grade dropout doesn’t qualify for many good jobs, so I worked doing what I could to get by. Candy stores, fast food restaurants, and even a blueberry farm where I shook bushes. Surprisingly, I made a decent paycheck shaking blueberry bushes, but the hours were long, the days hot.
Somewhere along the way I found myself living with a colleague at the age of 16. She was a college dropout and we both worked at the mall. We were both lost in life. When my high school friends were planning parties, proms, and dates, I was balancing checkbooks, shopping for groceries, and resting sore feet. And to be honest, I was tired. I was too young to be so tired. And I was tired of the comments. People assumed I had a baby at home, that I was a troublemaker, that I had a learning disability or that I just plain did not care about my education. I loved school I never got in trouble at school. I loved my teachers. I remember watching Robin Williams in the movie “Dead Poets Society,” standing on top his desks screaming “carpe diem” — Seize the Day — with such enthusiasm and love for his students. I wished so badly that I could be like him.
I was also tired of the looks. When you tell people you’re a high school dropout, they either look at you with pity or disgust, as if you are worse than the gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe. I suppose at some point I become tired of the looks and the comments, and I was determined to prove to people that I was more than a blueberry bush-shaker or a hamburger flipper. <Read more.>