Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not Good Enough

I have not posted anything here in the entire month of November (so far), and it has been more than a month since my last posting. Actually, there was a rant I posted for a day or two, but it served its purpose and I took it down. It reflected a rare moment of anger and thankfully that moment morphed into proactive engagement such that it no longer takes up space in my head. The ball, so to speak, is no longer in my court. But even if that one short-lived post is included, this has been a dry spell the likes of which this blog has not seen since its inception almost five years ago. And since diving into this medium, I have seen other blogs come and go for a variety of reasons - my circumstances are likely not unique. I am busy with other things; it takes a great deal of motivation to start the writing process; I feel as though I have nothing more to say. This last reason is probably the most difficult to accept, but it is what it is.

Life is challenging. My life has been particularly challenging due to my own choices and sometimes just because that’s the way life is. And this is true in both the negative connotation as well as the positive. The challenges I face today are due to choices I have made that are absolutely positive, but to realize my goals, there is a great deal of work to do. I recently shared with a friend how these hurdles often look overwhelming from the front side, but my experience has proven that as daunting as they appear, these challenges can be met if the effort required is applied. But like everything else worthwhile, success does not come overnight – it takes time. Here again, this is something I’ve said before. My pearls of wisdom regarding perseverance, patience, positive-thinking-glass-half-full insights are nothing new… I feel like the proverbial broken record.

For the sake of documentation, I’ll update where my recent path has led me thus far. This blog was created so that I could keep my writing fresh during the five-week winter break at California State University, Sacramento. It was just after the completion of my first semester there (I transferred as a junior) working toward my BA in government-journalism. Blogging was a suggestion from one of my journalism professors, but I never imagined it would continue this long or that it would have spawned more than 500 posts. I have not only documented my educational and professional path, but also many of the insights I have had along the way as inspired by everything from family to friends to politics to our society in general. The subtitle of this blog, “Perspectives, Purpose and Opinion,” turned out to be prophetic indeed – I had no idea that it would be the common thread that ran throughout, it just sounded good at the time.

Very early in my archives, I explained how “The 25 Year Plan” got its name. In 1983 I was a first semester freshman at San Diego State University. At the time, many of the students there accepted the reality that finishing a degree in four years was unrealistic. When seniors were asked what their standing was, many would say, “I’m a senior, but I’m on the five-year plan.” Today, the term “super-senior” has replaced the euphemism used at SDSU to denote a second (or more) year senior. I never made it past the freshman level at SDSU. I was placed on academic probation after my second semester and after my fourth I was disqualified – another euphemism; I was kicked out. College, apparently, was not for me.

In the intervening years between 1985 and 2003, I reentered post-secondary education (some college, some vocational) many times for different reasons, but the common denominator was that my path had come to a dead-end and I needed to regroup and start over again. My success at these various attempts was remarkably better than what I experienced at SDSU, but I was never in it for the long term. I stayed just long enough to get the carrot and then moved on. When it means being satisfied with the bare minimum, “good enough,” at the time, was. But things changed profoundly with the new millennium and by the fall of 2003 I found myself once again staring over, this time at American River College in Sacramento. If I said that my perspective had changed as a result of the events that had occurred between October 2000 and fall 2003, I would be lying. In some respects it had, but not regarding my propensity to put forth minimum effort to get by… good enough still was.

How I ended up at Sac State is a long(ish) story, but for whatever reason, I got excited about school again. My grades were better than ever before and though I had no real plan this time, circumstances serendipitously led me to that journalism professor, this blog and an education path I am now pursuing. I graduated with my BA in December 2007 – a full 26+ years after my 1981 high-school graduation. That’s how this blog got its name – “The 25 Year Plan.” I know, it’s not exactly 25 years, but “The 26 ½ Year Plan” didn’t have the same ring to it and if the clock is started in 1983 at SDSU, it’s 24 ½ years. You get the idea. The point here is that my best intentions are what led me to this point – always. That is, I have always intended to succeed – everyone does. Who would set out with the intention to fail? But good intentions, like “good enough,” were not enough.

Jumping forward, I am now almost finished with an MA in communication studies at Sac State. I have only a couple of assignments left to complete this semester’s work and next semester I am only working on my thesis. It did not take long before I was not satisfied with what a BA could do for me – good enough no longer was. And I am not stopping at an MA either. I am currently in the process of applying to eight different doctoral programs in the hopes of earning a Ph.D. I do not know whether I will be successful at getting in yet, but the only way to guarantee failure is by not trying. Some might say, “Okay, but I know the college thing is not for me, what’s any of this got to do with me?”

The answer is another question: “Are you satisfied with good enough?”


Lacey said...

Well Mike - I'm glad we got to take a few classes together. I wish you all the best as you finish your thesis and go for your doctorate! I look forward to hearing about it.

WooleyBugger said...

Long time no see Mike. Anyway Sometimes good enough has to least for awhile.