By Kendl Ferencz
Starting college right after you graduate high school is generally anxiety producing and nerve racking. It involves scheduling classes, buying books, getting a school ID, finding your way around campus and meeting new people.
Its been 6 years since I graduated high school, and the vast majority of those 6 years have been spent either loaded or in a rehabilitation center. When I was 18 I had a scholarship to an art school in Philadelphia, but because of my drug addiction I decided I would much rather live in a car than in a dorm room. It is one of my biggest regrets and every time I would bring it up at any one of the many rehabs I’ve resided in, I would get the “but you have life experience that no one else has” speech. While I nodded my head in agreement, I would be thinking, “I would rather have a college degree.”
During the past 6 years I would tell my parents, my counselors and when I happened to be on a run, my loaded friends that I was intending on starting school when a new semester started. This would happen literally every Fall, Spring, Summer and Winter semester for years. I would never actually enroll. I am tremendously good at making plans in my head, yet never really putting forth the action to make them a reality. I am sometimes under the impression that if I think about them enough, they will just spontaneously happen for me. I’ve recently learned that is not the case.
For once in my life I put in the work to accomplish something I have been thinking about doing for an inordinate amount of time. It all started when I got the opportunity to intern with John Sullivan at BTS Communications doing graphic design, which is what I originally had gotten a scholarship to art school for when I was 18 and ruined with my bright ideas and massive drug addiction. I proceeded to tell him the same sob story I had been telling everyone else for years, except he didn’t give me the life experience speech. He told me I should go to school. He had me sign up for the Fall semester at Santa Monica College‘s Academy of Entertainment and Technology.
Upon realizing that basically every class that the college offered was already full, I went back to John expecting him to tell me I could always go next semester, which meant I could avoid responsibility for a little bit longer and get a pat on the back for trying. I was wrong. Instead I was told to make a list of the classes I was going to take, and try and crash them on the first day. Thankfully I didn’t have to crash, I ended up staying up late one night to see if any classes opened up when the school drops students who have enrolled but have not paid. I got every class I wanted.
The toughest part was showing up the first day. I convinced myself the night before that I wouldn’t be able to find my class and even if I did I would be late, and because I would be late the professor would immediately hate and judge me, then my life would be over. In the morning upon discovering that traffic was a nightmare, my head started going in the same direction, telling me there was no possible way that I could ever make it on time and that all my fears were about to come true. Instead of giving up like I generally do, I decided that I had come too far this time. I at least had to make it to the school.
Not only did I make it to the school, but I also found my class on time. No one was judging me, and the professor didn’t hate me. It doesn’t seem like much, but this entire thing involved walking through immense amounts of fear for me. I had to be in action instead of at a standstill. I had to continue taking direction instead of turning and walking away, direction that I wouldn’t have gotten if it wasn’t for the internship that Beit T’Shuvah gave me. It was a life lesson for me; I finally showed myself that I could do something instead of just wishing it into a reality, and now that I’m finally in school no one has to listen to me talk about doing it anymore.
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