I Can’t

By Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Have you ever said to yourself, “Maybe I’ll go down to the Community College and take a couple of courses this year”? Often this thought occurs as a New Year’s resolution. Sometimes signing up for a course over the summer, or on-line, seems like a good idea. Then, it hits. The mother of all obstacles: “I can’t.”

There’s an old saying that goes: “’I can’t’ usually means ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘I don’t know how.’” If the idea of taking a course or two has been rolling around your head like a marble in a can, then the “I don’t want to” response would not apply. However, “I don’t know how” can be a real obstacle.

If you have never taken a course, the process of enrollment can seem a bit intimidating. The whole idea of signing up, buying the appropriate textbook, and walking into class on that first day can be scary if you have never done it before. But, isn’t that true with most things? We tend to be afraid of the unknown.

Perhaps school seems inappropriate. By that I mean – your age. What if you are someone over 50, or 60, or 70 … and so on? The funny thing about education is that it never really stops. Human beings are, by nature, curious creatures. We do tend to seek out answers to our questions. Looking for those answers can be a little frustrating, too, if you have never been shown the “how-to” of research. (Research is all about asking the right questions.) College can help you learn how to pose a question and then go exploring for the answer. That exploration is actually a fun and rewarding process. There is no substitute for the epiphany – that “ah ha!” moment when the answer is discovered.

If you are motivated to begin that process of discovery, then the process of enrollment is a minor step along the way. And, as with most things, once you do something you have never done before, doing it again becomes easier and easier.

Think about it. If your “I can’t” is actually “I don’t know how,” remember the other things that you didn’t know how to do at one time. You CAN do college – any time, any place, any age! Go for it!


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