I applied yesterday as a transfer student to the local state school to finally finish my Bachelor’s degree after twenty years. It felt foolish to only realize recently that I really enjoy learning. It makes perfect sense. Of course I enjoy learning. But, for me, school was never about learning, and maybe that was the problem. I struggled to get through the social and sensory nightmare that was high school. I struggled with classes and getting assignments done in college while I tried to reinvent myself into all the things I thought I should have been before that and simultaneously coming to terms with sexual identity, which ended up getting me kicked out of the private religious university I’d chosen. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t process it. I just changed directions and went to work. When I attempted to go back almost ten years later, my focus was on finishing the degree so I would have the degree and I based my program of study on what I thought would be helpful with where I was in my career—a career I didn’t actually choose but just sort of landed in.
I think it wasn’t until I started reading about neurodiversity, specifically autism, that I realized just how many decisions I make not based on what I want or what interests me, but how I think I can be successful in the world as it is. Maybe it helps that I’ve been seeing a lot of evidence lately that what I once perceived as “the world” might very well be the capitalist mask of white supremacy and patriarchy and that, to be authentic, I need to separate my goals from the goals of capitalism and really sit with what I want for myself. I still exist under capitalism and so there is always the constant question of how can I turn this into money? but I’m still a long way off from a full-on career change.
When I first met with a student transfer specialist, I shared my story and my transcripts and I was told I was still three years away from graduating, even after close to six years of collective undergraduate schooling and over 150 credits. At first I was discouraged and overwhelmed but I’ve thought a lot about it. I’ve also been reading a lot of books about autism and neurodiversity. I love learning but it’s obvious I have so much to learn. So if it takes three years, it takes three years. Initially, I think I was imagining three more years of dry management courses and case studies in organizational development. But if it’s three years of learning and becoming an expert in something I actually like, well… that’s probably what I was going to be doing with the next three years anyway, just without help.
I’m hoping more states with follow New Mexico’s lead and offer free public education at the undergraduate level. Maybe sometime within the next three years…