Yesterday I went to a job interview for a teaching position at a bilingual elementary school near where I live. The interview was going well- my teaching experience and the kinds of things I’m used to doing were a perfect match for the vacancy. The interviewer seemed to like me a lot and we had easy conversation.
Until she saw I didn’t have a college degree.
I’m used to it by now. Seven and a half years ago I dropped out of college my last semester. My daughter Lily was born in February and after her birth, I just couldn’t keep up with my classes (it was 20 credit schedule-the mad dash towards the cap and gown). It was probably one of the hardest decisions I ever made- officially leaving a school that had taught me so much without the certificate to show how much work I’d put into it for three and half years. I was so upset that even the secretary arranging my withdrawal shed a couple tears with me.
The hubs and I moved back to France shortly after so that he could support us. Babies number two and three came along and time started to slowly but surely chip away at the credits I’d accumulated during those years.
To be honest, I’ve made my peace with it, although it took a long time. And usually I just tell myself everyone’s paths are different and I took the road less traveled.
Yet having an employer look at me with such disappointment kind of re-opens the old wound. She basically told me the only reason they’d hesitate in hiring me is because on the day they present the teachers to the parents they like to be able to say where I graduated and what certificates I hold. If they can’t -then the parents will ‘chew me up and spit me out’- yes. Her words. And I decided maybe working with people like that probably isn’t my cup of tea.
It occurred to me on my way home from that interview- Writers don’t have to be college graduates in order to get published. They don’t need to even be published in order to get published- like the vicious cycle sometimes suggests. Writers are judged for their words. In the here and now.
Their thoughts, creativity, and endurance are what matters. Writing is a pure profession that doesn’t discriminate by background, age, culture, or ethnicity. On the contrary- it brings so many different kinds of people together. If I can’t be proud of my educational past- I can be proud of who I am today. I’m proud to be a writer, even if I’m still unpublished. I’ve stuck with it for almost as long as it takes to get a college degree and I’ve learned so much. And I’m especially proud to be a part of this community and to have met all of you.
What part of your writing journey are you proud of?