Quitting Made Me Happy(This Time)

Many of my fellow upper classmates were putting in their college applications during the 2005-2006 school year. I was not optimistic about college at all. I was ready to get the ABSOLUTE hell out of high school. I didn’t even know if I was going to graduate at that time.

I remember firing up my mother’s dial-up internet so that I could submit an application to George Mason University. Filling out that application made my self-esteem rise a little bit. After I filled out my application, I asked my father to front me some money so that I could submit my application. My father was reluctant to pay that NON-REFUNDABLE, $40 fee for my college application, but he did it. 

As my father entered his credentials on the keyboard, I just knew that he was having flashbacks of all of the D’s on my latest report card. My father is very blunt and more realistic than optimistic. I was a lazy student who did just enough to get by. He might have not believed that I would get into George Mason, but it meant the world to me that he was willing to waste his money. 

Yep, he wasted his money. I knew that thin ass envelope was a rejection letter before I even opened it. I decided to just focus on trying to graduate and then I would get a job. 

I was able to play catch-up in most of my classes. I knew I needed grace from God Almighty to pass Physics. Do you know why I elected to take Physics? It sounded like a class that would make me seem intelligent if I had it on my transcript. I didn’t know that this class would be a hybrid between science and math. My worst subjects in one existed package.

I was several points shy of passing that class for graduation. I needed an A on my final assignment. Where was this A going to come from? It certainly wasn’t coming from me. 

My Physics teacher was OBSESSED with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I mean, this man’s classroom was decked out in memorabilia. The decor was more interesting than the class. The Steelers just happened to advance to the Super Bowl in 2006, along with the Seattle Seahawks. My teacher wagered a deal for all of his students: If the Steelers win the Super bowl, every student will get 60 extra credit points added to their final assignment. February 5, 2006 was the first time that I watched a football game. 

I anxiously watched the Super Bowl game on my 19 inch Durabrand television. I had no idea what was going on. I just knew I was rooting for the Steelers. My parents knew why I was watching the game. Let’s just say, they were not amused. The Steelers ended up claiming the victory, and I was clear to receive my diploma. My father, the realist, wanted to see the diploma in my hand before he would accept that as reality.

As the school year was coming to a close, a lot of students began bragging about college acceptance letters. I was slightly jealous, but I had a job interview to look forward to. 

My mother took me to a job fair at an IKEA on a Saturday morning. For some odd reason, I volunteered to the interviewer that I was terrible at math. To my surprised, she still hired me. I began working part-time because I was still in school. I had completely pushed the idea of college out of my mind.

After I graduated(My father got his proof), I started working full-time at IKEA. I didn’t even finish working the summer before I was fired. I got another job where my older sister worked because she was know as a hard and excellent worker. There was no interview. I was always known at work as “Angelica’s sister”. I think five people actually called me by my government name. 

I made a few friends at work. I was always hanging out when I was not working. Little did I know, I was about to go through a life-changing experience.

Nope, I still didn’t get into college. In February 2007, I found out that I was 7 weeks pregnant. I was terrified, and I had so many factors working against me. However, I decided to parent my child. I gave birth later that year, and I had no idea that I was in for one Hell of a ride. 

My mother wouldn’t let me sit around and feel sorry for myself. My mother and father were young parents. They raised five badass children. We weren’t the “My kids are going to save the world!” type of badasses. We were the “You better be grateful for a mother’s love.” type of badasses. My mother knew how hard life was going to be. Still, she believed in me. She was the optimist.

I made the decision to attend college because I was convinced that I would make bank if I had a degree. I needed good money because I had a child.

In 2010, I first attended college at a local campus. I briefly enrolled in cosmetology, before switching my major to Business. The atmosphere reminded me of high school all over again. Students were late. Students slept. 

I was “Students”. Still, I managed to complete my work and make decent grades. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting what I needed from this school. I was taking classes that I didn’t necessarily need. I became discouraged and withdrew from school. Are you sensing commitment issues? 

A dear friend introduced me to the University of Phoenix online school. I enrolled at the end of 2013. Only 17 of my 36 community college credits transferred. I was PISSED. Still, I carried on. 

In June 2015, I finally obtained an Associate Degree in Business Administration. I immediately jumped into the Bachelor’s program. I was on a roll. I devoted so much to my schoolwork. I was working during and after childbirth labor. I even carved out time for schoolwork during my annual family vacations. 

Up next, was my Bachelor’s Degree. After I completed 18 class credits, I was awarded with a certificate in Business Administration. In 2017, I  obtained my full Bachelor’s Degree. I took some time away from my studies for a few months before getting back to work. This time, I was hungry for a Master’s Degree. I wanted to maximize the amount of money that I could earn. A higher degree meant a higher pay, right? 

I was worn out. Being a stay-at-home mom and keeping up with my schoolwork was starting to take it’s toll on my mental health. My grades started slipping, and I ended up on academic probation. I was crushed. Nothing else that I achieved mattered the moment that I saw that “academic probation” status. I took another break before I started my last three classes. I felt like I owed myself that much. After I exhausted my leave of absences, I returned to school.

I begrudgingly began the final classes of my Master’s program. I did fairly well in the next class. In fact, my GPA rose a little bit. It seemed like every A spiked my overall grade by .000001%, but every F would tank my overall grade by at least 500%. 

Going into my second to last class, I was optimistic. Unfortunately, my teacher was a harsh grader. I was writing two papers every week. It seemed that my teacher was never satisfied with my work. I framed a lot of my assignments around being a stay-at-home mom because I wasn’t a rocket scientist, like my classmates. I guess that wasn’t good enough. Still, I escaped that class with a B-.

I entered my last class with very little gas in the tank. I had another teacher who was a tough grader. I was OVER it. 

I was dealt a harsh blow. My teacher gave me an F on my week one assignment. I didn’t understand his rationale. I spent many hours on this paper. I broke down. I cried on and off for two days. I watched my grade drop from an A to a G+. 

Once I recovered, I did what I do best. Can you guess what that was? Yes, I dropped out. Yes, I did. I dropped out of school just one class shy of obtaining a Master’s Degree. It was late in 2019.

I was no longer able to handle the emotional toll. I was a 31 year old wife with 6 young children. I was putting an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself, and school just became too much of a commitment.

As soon as I submitted my request for withdrawal, I could feel my brain cells repairing themselves. I felt a huge wave of peace wash over me. I knew in that moment that I had made the right decision.

As expected, my academic advisor called me. I almost immediately regretted answering the phone. He kept pushing me, but I wouldn’t budge. He knew what my home life was like, but it was almost as if he wanted me to put my family on the back burner. I began to think that this man was going to get a check if I graduated from my program. 

Well, I apologize for stopping his bag, but I was firm in my decision. His pushy attitude was not helping to reverse my decision. My advisor continued to call until I put his number on the “Do not disturb” list. 

Honestly, I didn’t even like school. For all of those years, I held onto the mentality that having a college education would guarantee this massive income. I had been studying for a Master’s Degree and was still unsure of what I wanted to do for my career. 

That’s no different from today. I was sure that  if I did not have children, I would not have gone to school. I genuinely felt like I had wasted my time.

School was never for me. I had to have this realization about myself. School became a way for me to impress my parents. I never did this for me. Obtaining degrees was a way to make me feel worthy. Going to school never made me happy.

I enjoyed the praise that I received from my parents. I was in an imaginary race with my siblings to become the favorite child. I loved my name being attached to something other than birth certificates.

Yet, people still believe in me. Despite my struggles to believe in myself, there are people who still cheer me on. My mother, the optimistic, still prays for me. My father, the realistic, still loves me. My friends still encourage me. 

 I went to college to get more knowledge. Surprisingly, I learned more about myself than I ever knew.

Today, I enjoy my peace. I enjoy not having to worry about deadlines, or being judged for how I interpret different lessons. Most of all, I enjoy not feeling validated by a piece of paper.

I may not have my feet on the ground yet, but I think I’m close to landing. 

By Antonia Harris

A stay-at-home mom & dedicated wife on a path to find a purpose.

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