Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Small Regrets

As we get older it's only natural to look back over our lives and take measure. What did we accomplish that we are most proud of, what do we regret? Although I do not believe in living in the past, it is not a thing to be forgotten for it is the sum and substance of who we are today. And I do not believe in dwelling on the negative, it only impedes our progress forward.

But I do have one regret that stays with me, and that is not having a chance to complete my education. As I came to the end of my high school years and had to think about college (Massachusetts Institute of Art, Rhode Island School of Design and RIT came to mind) I knew I wanted to pursue an education in art. Unfortunately, my family and the times did not encourage four years of college for girls. The women in my family had laid out my future and although I was allowed two years of junior college, it was more in preparation for marriage and motherhood than a career.

So off I went to what was, basically, a glorified finishing school and proceeded to drop out after the first year to marry a bad boy. (This in a foolish effort to get away from abusive and controlling parents.) Four years later I had two little girls, a divorce from the bad boy, who didn't pay child support, and a job to support my children.

Admittedly, I regret the marriage to the bad boy, but have never regretted the two beautiful children that the marriage produced. They hardly know him, but the three of us have a very special bond and as adults they are my dear friends as well as my incredible daughters.

Which, in a roundabout way, gets me back to education. I never did have the time or the finances to complete my education and, as an artist, I am pretty much self-taught. I am proud of the accomplishments I have made on my own but am well aware of the fact that the proper college would have made a very big difference. I would've learned much of what I needed to know in a considerably shorter period of time, I would've had the experience of college, which helps us grow in other ways, and I would've had a degree. Which would have meant a lot, for, you see, I would have loved to teach.

To my grandchildren, who read their Mimi's blog, I will reiterate how important I think education is. I believe that something beyond high school, be it college, trade school, apprenticeships or hands on learning, is important to the success of your future.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I love Dr Phil's saying: "Sometimes you make the right decision, and sometimes you make the decision right." You did the latter and you did it well.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Our stories are very similure but I did not have your talent. I too regret not getting more of an education so I'm going to take some classes online.

I think sharing this will make an impression on your grandkids. You did an amazing job with your passion and God given talent.

I love you!

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Coll said...

I too have some regrets, I suppose we all do. But I try to look back on those events as learning curves that somehow helped to form the person I am today. Looking back can be a good thing if we use it as a learning tool which is what I try to do.. not always easily done.

I so agree with you about a good education. And these days.. the doors that education can open to young men and women are as endless as their dreams.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I really support getting higher education, skills-based, with strong options for employment once the degree is awarded. Young people are so fortunate today, to get pell grants, scholarships, and financial aid, if they are really motivated....and, some kids just don't want the expense of a student loan, the debt-load. They wrestle with some hard choices.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Mama P said...

Anvilcloud said it best. There are people who are very educated and dumb as stumps with real life issues. You, my dear, are the smartest, most elegant woman I know.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Pam, what a thoughful post. Many times I wish I had gone on to school too. I listen to my audio courses every night and think how it would be to be sitting in a lecture hall and having a live professor speaking. But it seems that, as you say, you have accomplished a great deal without the formal education. I agree that all young people should get some sort of additional education. I don't think anyone has ever looked back and expressed regret that they had gotten more schooling. (I also married a "bad boy" the first time around!!)

2:21 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

The older I get, Pam, the more I've come to believe that our paths are what we are dealt, and, like AC says "you made it right".

3:32 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Pam--while I completely agree with you on the value of an education, I think you have been blessed with a talent for art that no school could have taught you. Maybe you would have learned this or that technique--but the gift of an eye that can see and then create such beauty--that is something you are born with.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Crayons said...

Hi Pam,
Thanks for sharing this. I never would have guessed that you missed finishing your education. I assumed you were a trained artist. I also assumed that you had once taught, since your readings are so insightful.

I never know which pocket I should carry my regrets in. They are so heavy and smelly.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Bitterroot said...

Pam, I agree with kgmom. Further schooling might certainly have created other opportunities. But your art and creativity are unfettered by all the restrictive rules and conventions of formal training. Your eye and your vision make your art so very unique. Not only that, the types of digital media we're working with now were unheard-of during our schooling years, and many of us are self-taught as we work to learn these new tools!

I had quite a lot of training in writing and education, and happily enjoyed teaching and writing for the 40 years of my formal career. But I've had no training at all in the passion of my retirement years, photography. Many times this is frustrating to me. So I do understand!

10:12 AM  
Blogger Endment said...

ently find myself looking back and wondering about all my decisions... Eleanor Roosevelt says it far better than I can "I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision."
We are enjoying Who You Are!

9:19 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...


This is one of those posts that drew so many wise and wonderful comments. To all of them I add my own voice: You, dear - did wonderfully well and possess a gift that no education could have imparted.

I know your grandchildren listen to their Mimi and will heed your advice.

4:57 PM  
Blogger kate said...

I will just echo the comments above - you are a wise woman and I'd have thought you'd many years of schooling under your belt.

Another reason it is important to get a good education is so that one doesn't spend any time regretting not having continued on.

5:45 PM  

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