Today I took the first step into the future. At the age of 35, I restarted my college years. Today, I officially enrolled in school. Brooke Abbott, The Crazy Creole College Student!

One thing my mother taught me growing up, was that no one on the planet can prevent you from getting what you deserve. There may be obstacles and hurdles along the way, but only you can get around them. And you can get around them. I believed that. I think it’s the only thing that has kept me going throughout my entire journey with IBD. Although some days are harder than others. Some days may get me down. I know, deep down inside, this disease is an obstacle. It is not road block and it is not my excuse. That belief and stubbornness has led me here, to the restart of a journey that began 17 years ago. On this day 17 years ago, I committed to my college education. Today I reaffirmed with the stroke of a pen and click of computer key.

What’s daunting is the unknown. I think I’m more nervous now, than I was then. You would think it would be the opposite. But perhaps because now I understand just how important a college education is. And also being able to see in my transcripts the downward spiral of my health. I start to see where the fatigue and the pain began to set in. Where I went from being head of the class, to a drop out. The only solace I have, is knowing it was all done unwillingly. However, here I am now. Looking at all I’ve tacked on since roaming the halls of college. A child, treatment, taxes and the rest of the everyday adult responsibilities and expectations. Also the routine of being able to concentrate on studying. Re-learning things I’ve had an almost 20 year gap on. For example, math. The counselor asked me what the last math class I had in high school…*insert blank stare*. Then he asked what the grade was…*insert resting mom face*. Now knowing what I suspected as a teen, I WILL NEVER NEED THIS MATH, I have to go in an make the grades in order to the get the validation of my intellect on a piece of paper.

Yet…I’m excited. Very excited actually. The feeling of accomplishment. Finishing what I set out to do. More than that, I love school. I love education. Trying to instill a love of education in my child while knowing my own education was not complete never sat right with me. I am excited to walk across that stage and accomplish my goals. Learning new things to beat my son with at Jeopardy. Wearing a collegiate sweatshirt with pride. Being able to bargain for the salary that I deserve because of my credentials. Not that I’m placing my worth all on a piece of paper. But society does, am I’m worth so much more than what I’ve been given because of my circumstances. And then just the idea that I can do this while being a single mother with a chronic condition…I mean…come on! Sometimes you have to be your own badass super hero.

I will say that I’m not just flying into this without a safety net. The first conversation I had, was with my doctor. It was important that he not only know that this is what is happening. But I needed to know that I could safely participate in a school setting with where I was in my disease journey and treatment plan. Next I planned. I planned out how many classes I could really handle. How I should take them and where. I decided on the closest community college to me. Most of my classes will be online. And the courses I cannot take online, I decided I would take one or two of those a semester, during the day while Hippo is at school. I will have 2-3 dedicated to work, depending on my school load. And I would have one day dedicated to my own self care & preservation. It’s Hippo, then school, then work/advocacy. Oh and me? I’m first! I can’t pour from an empty cup, so I have to come first. I met with a counselor to make sure that my schedule will work toward my goals of transferring to a four year university with a public policy department. And if not public policy, then political science. Lastly, I am meeting with the disability office. I have to be honest with myself this go around. I do not always feel great, everyday. Trying to explain what is happening to you without proof or some sort of documentation from a doctor, will only prevent you from completing your education properly. This way there can be provisions made for me if I’m sick, in the hospital or late because of illness and/or treatment. Lastly, I’ve stopped listening to people’s opinions. No one else has to live in this body, while trying to parent, work and live a productive life. No can understand the wave of health and sanity I have to ride. No one else feels the void I feel regarding my education. No one else can do what I do. I just gotta do it!

So, today, on this signing day, I recommit to myself and my education.

Happy Signing Day!