On Saturday, John and I made homemade vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce for our niece’s graduation party. She earned her bachelor’s degree and is currently working on her teaching credential. Graduating from college is no easy feat. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1992, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Twice I almost dropped out, but in the end, I finished and I’m very grateful that I did. I’ve always considered my education one of my greatest accomplishments in my life, although I haven’t always felt this way. Sometimes I take my education for granted. Often, I think that my education hasn’t amounted to much because I wasn’t ever able to make a career out of what I studied in college and graduate school.
At UC Santa Cruz I majored in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Policy & Planning. In graduate school, I focused on Urban & Environmental Policy, but specifically narrowed it down to international environmental policy. I loved this field, and I moved to Washington, DC after I graduated to find work in this area. I had a few internships, but never found a permanent job in this field. I was always disappointed in myself because of this. I thought I didn’t try hard enough, or chant enough, or didn’t communicate well enough, or write well enough. I thought there was too much competition in my field, and that I didn’t have the right skills. Whatever the reason, I spent 3 years looking for a job that I never found, and ultimately came back to California to teach.
At this point, I am rediscovering the value of my education. I learned so much about issues that seem even more relevant today than they were when I was studying them. I continue to write about environmental issues as a freelance writer. What is most important to me is my happy marriage, my Buddhist practice, and finishing my memoir. I work on my memoir every day because this is also the story of my life. I’ve been reflecting on many different parts of my life recently: my childhood, my high school years, my friend who lives in Hawaii, college life, my marriage to John, in addition to the struggles I’ve had since my diagnosis. I realize that my illness and the things that have happened over the past 10 years does not encompass my entire life. There is so much more to me than that. I will bring this out in my memoir as I continue to write.
Thanks for reading! Jen