Keeping Your Balance Amidst Chaos by Mia Edmonsoa-Ochoa

Earning a college degree is a journey that requires you, and teaches you, chaotic balance. “Balance” would imply that weight is equally spread so everything can be given equal attention. That definition doesn’t really apply, however, when “balance” includes attending college full-time while working full-time and taking care of two children, all the while attempting to keep your sanity and faith intact.

In my home when I was growing up, getting an education was the gospel. Not a day went by that my father did not speak in my ear about the importance of earning an education. With my own two children, I discovered early on that I, too, was preaching the same gospel my father had preached to me.

My journey began in 2002 when I began, part time, to attend school on the many campuses of Austin Community College. After the death of my father in 2007, I made the difficult choice of leaving my full time job to pursue a college degree full time. I finished the majority of my primary classes at Austin Community College, then transferred to Huston-Tillotson University. Reflecting on my time there, I know I could not have been as successful as I was without a strong support system both at school and at home.

My priorities were very difficult to balance. On one hand, I understood the importance of being a mother to my children, and giving them my undivided attention and affection when I was home. On the other hand, I needed to concentrate and give my attention to the mountain of homework I brought home daily. I always carried this sense of guilt because when I gave to one, I neglected the other. To say things were difficult would be an understatement.

I discovered balance, though a chaotic balance, a short distance from the finish line. I was finally able to shift from feeling guilty and crying at night because my babies missed me to feeling confident that my sacrifice would pay off ten-fold once I crossed the finish line and got that degree. While my children were with their father, I lost sleep completing homework assignments, editing and revising essays. I strived for perfection on my way to becoming an educator. I suffered some setbacks, encountering obstacles that forced me to change directions that sometimes led down roads I preferred not to travel down. The experiences on these roads, however, taught me more about character, community and commitment. And what balance really means.

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