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Defeated. Discouraged. Inadequate.

I moved to Memphis when I was 20 years old and had completed just one semester of community college. I was pretty excited that there was a four-year college in my new city. Once I'd gotten settled into the place, I began the process to apply to school. Back then, you visited the campus, picked up a catalog and application, and mailed it in. Soon it was time to register for class.

I went to campus, parked, walked to the big building in the middle and went in. Inside, a lot of people were milling about. There were ropes set up to create lines for crowd control. I couldn't make heads or tails out of it. I couldn't even figure out where to enter, much less what to do next.

I turned around and ran out.

Once home, I burst into tears and told my brother that I had no idea what I was doing, or why I ever thought I could do it. I had never felt so defeated, so discouraged, so inadequate. My brother was younger than me and had never set foot on a college campus, but he was my cheerleader and he insisted he was taking me back up there. This time, when the two of us walked in, a bright young student worker greeted us, checked my paperwork and directed us to the appropriate registration line. Disaster averted. I was on my way.

Once I earned my degree and joined the professional world, I never looked back.I never had any desire to return to school. To be honest, a graduate degree in my line of work doesn't really advance your career all that much; you'd have to want to go back for something specific.

Then one day I was driving to work, listening to my local public radio station, and I heard a spot about a creative writing workshop through the University of New Orleans graduate school. It sounded interesting, so I looked it up when I got to work. I figured it could help me improve my skills, and my company has a good tuition reimbursement benefit, so I applied, to begin in January.

Once I was accepted, I found out that it's not a "creative writing workshop," as it sounded like on the radio. It's an MFA in Creative Writing. Hmm...a masters in writing? I mean, why not? I could take one or two classes a semester, and it doesn't even matter if I finish. The classes would improve my professional skills now and maybe assist me in securing freelance work in retirement.

Now December is here and I'm trying to get things wrapped up for the year (and take some vacation time) and it occurred to me that I don't remember having seen an email with any sort of instructions or registration information. So I logged into my account and spent literally hours with at least 16 open tabs and even had to call the UNO help desk once before I finally realized:

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Boom. Just like that it was back, after all these years: defeated, discouraged, inadequate. What was I thinking? What in the world made me think I could go to graduate school at the age of 52?

Because absolutely nothing is done like it was. When I was in college, we filled out a paper form with the classes we wanted, then stood in line for the next available operator behind a row of computers and they plugged them in and told you if the classes had room for you. I think around the time I graduated they started doing registration over the phone. I assumed that it's done online these days and look, I'm fairly tech savvy. People at work ask me for help on computer and AV stuff and I usually know the answers. I can navigate around an ftp site.

But I knew not the first thing about any of what I looked at today. I didn't even know my email for logging on was the user name they sent me I mean, should I have known that? Would you have known that? The only thing I know at this point is that I've already missed pretty much every deadline. Turns out you register for Spring classes IN OCTOBER NOW WHAT THE EVER LOVING H*CK.

Also, I need two meningitis vaccines (eight weeks apart) before I'm even allowed to sign up for a class. Do I even have an immunization record somewhere? It's not like I can just call up my pediatrician and get a copy of it. The man's probably been dead for years.

This is just absurd. At this point, all I can do is punt. Postpone everything until fall so I can check the boxes and meet the deadlines. Go get some vaccinations.

This has been a rough day. Most of the time, I do a pretty good job keeping that voice in my head at bay. You know the one: "You have no business even trying because you'll never do it and whatever made you think you could anyway, you cow?" But hoo boy, was she screaming today.

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