When I look back, the one thing I regret most is not attending a university. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated high school. I don’t remember anyone talking to me about college. I never took the SAT’s, and honestly, I am not sure at that point in my life I would have had the courage to leave my home town. My relationship was so serious. At the time, we were engaged.
My father had offered to set me up with a job and a place to live in Hawaii if I would give it at least six months. When I told my fiance, he threw a fit, and that ended that. Then the daughter of the woman I was working for suggested I check out a school she would be attending for dental assisting. I looked into it and it seemed interesting. I was able to get financial aid. I started attending school half-day and worked a full shift at a clothing shop afterwards. Six months later, I was working in the exciting field of dentistry, and I loved it.
Thirty-four years later, I am still in the dental field, although after assisting for a few years, I realized I was bored. I started helping in the front office when I had downtime and decided I preferred managing the practice, organizing things, and marketing. All these years later, I can say the field has served me well. I learned both ends of the practice, the clinical side and the business side. I was also fortunate enough to work for a large practice for almost 20 years that allowed me the ability to orchestrate significant events and make many connections in the community. It also gave me the flexibility to coach my daughter’s softball teams, be a girl scout leader, and attend all school functions.
What it hasn’t allowed me to do was feel accomplished in the academic world. As I have gotten older, I realize the value of being well rounded in academia, have the job experience, and life experience. I have let myself down in the academic department. At times, I feel I missed out on one of the most critical stages of life. Going away to college, dorm life, and making those forever friends. Would college have guided me to find out who I was meant to be and do with my life? Would college have led me down a different path? Would I be in a completely different place, have more money, be happier, still married? Maybe I would have learned how to be ok with just being me much earlier than in my fifties. These are things I think about. These are the things I worry may define me.
Most every day, however, I try to live my life in the present moment doing what I know best. I am a hard worker and lead by example. I love to mentor people, young and old, in their health and fitness goals. I am dedicated fully to family and friends. I am open to learning and growing every day in all aspects of my life. I surround myself with as many positive people as I can and try to spread the same uplifting energy to those around me. I may not be the smartest person in the world, and because of that, I may still go back to college. It’s never too late. Will I be able to keep up with the young adults in class? Who knows, but one thing I know for sure, I won’t give up. If I want something, I will work at it until I get it. Not attending college is a regret, yes, but the way I have lived my life is not.
I have two beautiful daughters I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have traveled and experienced things many have not. My ex-husband and I have many crazy stories to tell our grandchildren and boy are they crazy. All of these experiences are unique and special in their way. I can say to you with the most profound conviction, they are also not anything you can learn from in a course you take in college. So, I feel pretty darn lucky to live the life I have.
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