The DISTANCE of Education

When I first went to college I was somewhat excited, but to be honest it was not as big for me as it is form some…or many? I knew growing up that I would go. It was more of a natural inclination than thought or option. Though I made some poor choices and mistakes, I still managed to do well enough to get accepted, get some scholarship money and attend..

The part that became most shocking to me later on, is how much the experience of being a college student and ultimately “educated” changed me. Fast forward about 8 years, and I am on the verge of a doctorate degree….and though I know my family is proud of me, and I am too indeed proud, I feel so…estranged. This thing called education that was instilled in me from a very young age by my parents (and some other family members), has potentially become the very thing that has driven me so far apart from them….mentally. Though my parents nor myself were ever “sheltered”, and I have a mother who is has been to college a few times herself, there is still something that is very different among us. From my father, to my mother, to my brother, down to me….Ideally my parents have more “world” and “life” experience than I do, but overtime I have been molded and shaped by many experiences over the past years as well.

I grew up in college. I came of age in college. I matured in college. My heart was broken in college. I Loved in college. I learned in college. I liberated myself in college. I found peace in college. I graduated college…graduated again…and soon will graduate…again.With all of this, one would think I would easily be able to take my experiences and growth back home to my parents, to my family, my community…But the reality is (with the exception of my parents & brother), my growth has afforded me cold shoulders, pointed fingers, and a deep level of misunderstanding I never thought imaginable from the community that raised me and the family that taught me.

In a book I once read on class, the author said that there were two main things that help to move people along in social class. Those two things are: education & relationships. The author went on to talk about poverty as the central concept of poverty and education as the central changing agent. Later the author went on to assert that in order to move along the class continuum one must give up relationships for achievement. So that makes me wonder, for my educational achievements, did I somewhere along the line sacrifice relationships? Is this what defines the “distance” that I feel? I never thought it would be easy….and it surely has not been. Even in academia there is something to prove (especially for someone like me). What I did always believe was that my education would be the key that would halt or altogether eliminate some issues that many people “like me” face…daily. But I guess what the old folks always said was true, “nothing in this life is free. For everything there is a debt or sacrifice”.

Now here I am years later…reflecting…and in retrospect I wonder if I were a high school student making a decision on the next step would I choose this life again knowing that although I only moved a few hours away to begin my “education”…that was enough distance to change me in a way in which I’m not sure I can ever turn back.

“A mind that has been stretched by a new experience, can never again go back to its old dimensions”- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Distance

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