Posts tagged ‘Overcoming Obstacles’

Taking Off Your Mask

(Image retrieved from Google images, original web site:  http://wallpaper.desktx.com/other/index_10.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

It is fall.  It is late October.  That means that soon children, and children wannabes (also known as “adults”) will don their masks and costumes and head on out the door in pursuit of treats.  Now is the time you have waited for – to be able to be someone else, if only for a little while.

This gave me pause.  I wonder if, in fact, it is not the other way around?  I wonder how many people go through their lives wearing the masks they felt they were destined to wear – whether by culture or family or education?  You may find yourself waiting for the end of the day, and the end of the week, so that you may remove your mask of “responsibility” and go outdoors and “play,” as you bicycle, hike or play games with your kids.  Maybe you pursue your other hobbies, such as research, reading, or writing the “next great American novel.”  Maybe in those hobbies lies the real you.

Perhaps it is when you are immersed in your creative project that you truly feel like you, for it is during these week-ends of “escape” that you actually feel unencumbered by the restraints of the workaday world.   You feel free to design those parts of your life that seem to complete who you are.

If this is true for you, then it may be time to think about allowing yourself to enjoy the fruits of the week-end all week long.  This is to say, why not pursue that which makes you so happy, feel so complete, feel so like you?  Why take your mask off only on the week-ends?

You assume many roles throughout your life.  You are a father and a son, a mother and a daughter, an employee or an employer, a customer, a driver, and so on.  However, there are those roles that speak to the heart of who you are.  That role could be a writer, or sculptor, or tailor, or photographer, or yogi – professions that are not merely roles, but reflect your artistic soul.  You find that you are your best self when you have allowed yourself to immerse within the waters of your creativity.

Start now.  Remove your everyday mask – and become you.

“You just think you can’t do it then you do it.” (Success Stories Series)

(Reprinted from Heartland Community College, July 2011 “Alumni Spotlight” – Normal, Illinois)

Bett Atkins

Name: Bet Atkins
Class: Heartland Class of 2005
Degree: Associate’s in Arts

Interviewer: Colleen Reynolds, Director of Alumni Relations and Outreach

 

Colleen: The alumni spotlight shines this time on an alum who’s a single mom of seven kids who turned to Heartland at age 45 to start a new career, one that recently led to an award for her compassion.

Bet: Hi. I’m Bet Atkins. I graduated from Heartland Community College in 2005 with an Associate in Arts degree.

Colleen: I know that you’ve gone on and received your nursing degree as well.

Bet: I have. I graduated from Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University in 2007. I’m currently employed at Advocate Bromenn in the I.M.C.U. I’m a day nurse and love my job.

Colleen: I.M.C.U., what does that stand for?

Bet: It stands for the Intermediate Care Unit. Originally, I was hired to work the step-down unit, which is one south, right outside the ICU. Last year, they merged my unit with the medical unit and made us one big unit. We were all together up on the fifth floor now.

Colleen: I’m going to take you back to the beginning of your academic career and ask you what led you to Heartland?

Bet: I knew that there were going to be some changes in my life and I knew that I would need to care of my children. I was a single, or I figured I was headed to be a single mom and I was. I started during the summer of 2003 and took two classes, then bumped up to full-time and took everything that I could take so I could graduate.

Colleen: So had you been out of the classroom for awhile?

Bet: Oh lord! I have been out of the classroom since really when I graduated from high school all those years ago in 1976. I took some college courses, got married, was a stay at home mom for a long time. I managed a bookstore in Peoria for awhile, and I loved that job. I just figured that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. I had the opportunity to take care of my grandmother when she was dying in 1979 and that cemented the idea that I wanted to be a nurse. I figured one day I woke up and I thought I’m going to be 45 this year and if I don’t do it now, I’m not ever going to do it and that at least I wanted to try. If I can’t do it and manage the kids and take care of everything else, then okay but I’ll have known I had given it my best shot. I just started those classes and taking those classes. I had great support, had a lot of fun. I had great professors. I loved Edie Wallace, Ali (Abu-Amr), Steve Rummel. Just a lot of encouragement from the professors here and a lot of encouragement from my church family.

Colleen: What else about your experience here helped you succeed and get that Associates degree and then move on?

Bet: I think most of it was probably self-esteem. Heartland gave me a big boost in my self-esteem. You just think you can’t do it then you do it. Then you think okay I can do this and I can move on to the next step. It was just like I could get tutoring if I wanted it. I used Project RISE at times. Heartland had the daycare which there were times I needed those services. Like I said before, I worked part-time in the Financial Aid office as a student worker and met lifelong friends there. There are people that I love there that really encouraged me and wanted to see me achieve my goals. It’s easier when you have someone from the back pushing you. It really is.

Colleen: It sounds like you felt supported as a whole person, not just in the classroom.

Bet: I really did. I met people here that I love and would consider that they would be lifelong friends of mine. There were other students my age that were middle aged who were doing career changes. You tend to stick together and help eachother. You’re not eighteen or nineteen, just out of high school. You have full-time responsibilities as parents. Some of them worked outside jobs so going to school had to be the priority.

Colleen: So you went on and obtained your nursing degree. Where did that lead you?

Bet: It led me to Advocate Bromenn. I love my job. It’s fabulous. I can work three days a week, twelve hour shifts. I can pick up extra shifts if I want. It gives me time to be a mom which is a priority. When I leave work, 99% of the time I feel like I’ve accomplished something, that I have helped someone else. I feel like I had so many people help me as a single mom going to college, raising kids and a granddaughter that it’s kind of like payback and paying it forward that you go and take care of people. You know that they’re not at their best and you do what you can to make their day easier.

Colleen: Well then you must be very good at what you do because you received a compassion award in the first quarter of this year. Tell me about what that meant to you to receive that kind of an award or recognition of what you do everyday.

Bet: It was really nice, but I’d be just as happy to going about my own business at work. It’s very nice to be recognized by families. It was a family who thought that I had gone above and beyond taking care of their loved one. That’s amazing that they took the time to write the company and the hospital recognized me. I’m very appreciative of that but that’s not why I do what I do. I do it because I love people and I want things to be good for people. I want their outcomes to be good. I want to be able to set an example to newer nurses and my peers. What we do is very hard both physically and emotionally. You can get through the day by making someone’s life better just by being kind and loving. I think that to do what we do as nurses we have to genuinely love other people or you couldn’t do it day after day.

Colleen: Is there anything that you learned here at Heartland that has translated to what you do everyday, either academically or just about people?

Bet: I think all of my classes at Heartland prepared me for the next step at Mennonite. They gave me a good base foundation to build on the skills and knowledge base that I learned at Heartland. I think that just being back in a diverse population that was a lot of fun. You get to hear ideas and think about things that you have not thought about in a long time. I want to be as open minded as possible about everything. What I learned here helped me to be a better nurse. I loved my time here.

Colleen: You almost get a little misty-eyed when you think about it.

Bet: I actually do. For me, it was a really hard time in my life. Heartland gave me something to focus on, just class after class after class. It kept me from sitting there thinking my life is terrible. If you have something to focus on and if you have a goal and if you do your best to attain that goal, it might take you a little bit longer, you might be 45 years old in class with a bunch of 18 year olds, they were all great.  They accepted me. It was like they were other children of mine. I felt that it was such a good thing for me. It was the best move I could make. Everybody was just so supportive. It’s just such a great cultural experience here. There’s things to do and outside of classroom events. We’re lucky we have Heartland.

Colleen: Is there anything else you would like to say to students attending Heartland today?

Bet: I’m not anybody special. I’m just Bet. If I can do it, you can do it. I occassionally run into single moms who were floundering andI tell them my Heartland story. I went to Heartland when I was 45 and I had kids at home. If I can do it, you can do it because there is nothing so special about me. It was just determination and wanting to be able to provide a good life for my kids. It was my kids who were my driving force. I want them to have a good life and Heartland enabled me to move to the next step which was at Mennonite and then be able to get my job. I just can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

Colleen: Bet Atkins, we think there’s something special about you. We’re happy to have you in our latest spotlight. Good luck and continued future success.

Bet: Thank you very much, Colleen.

“Inspired by life …” (Success Stories Series)

(Reprinted from Cape Fear Community College, Alumni Spotlight, 10.28.10)

CFCC Alumnus Chelsie Ravenell models some of his latest design work. Photo Credit: Reese Moore

By Alicia Gronneberg, CFCC Foundation Intern

Chelsie Ravenell was born in Charleston, South Carolina and relocated to the Wilmington area in 2003 to play basketball at Cape Fear Community College [Wilmington, North Carolina].  Growing up in the “ghetto” (as he describes it) Chelsie realized after high school that he needed to do something with his life and CFCC gave him that opportunity.

“Cape Fear Community College gave me a second chance at life,” says Chelsie, who returned to school at age 24.  “In high school I got all C’s, but while I was playing basketball at Cape Fear I had a 4.0.”

Chelsie was enrolled in the business management program but also had a not-so-secret love for fashion, modeling, and designing clothes.  While Chelsie had always been interested in fashion and refers to himself as “the stylish dude who won best dressed in high school,” he found his true inspiration for fashion design after his uncle passed away.

“My uncle lived in my grandmother’s house. When he died we were cleaning it out, and I came across a brand new sewing machine—that’s when I taught myself how to sew.”

Chelsie started designing some of his first fashions while he was still enrolled at CFCC and while his friends often teased him for it he never let it hinder his work.

“The guys would be going out, and I would be staying home to sew,’ says Chelsie.  “I would go out the next night wearing something I made and people would really like it—it got me excited about what I was doing and continued to motivate me to make more and more.”

A few years later Chelsie created his clothing line, called KennethBeatrice, in honor of his grandmother and uncle—it was because of them that he began to fulfill his dream.  “Inspired by Life,” is the moto that Chelsie lives by.  He says he was inspired to design by the people who have passed away. “Through my line the people I have lost live on, and I will live on through the people who wear my line.  With that motto and mindset you never run out of ideas.”

Chelsie now spends his time between his hometown of Charleston, New York City and Los Angeles where he is a “one many army—designing, making, and marketing” his clothing line. He was recently featured as a semi-finalist during Charleston Fashion Week’s 2010 Emerging Designer Competition.

Trusting Yourself

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

 

(Image downloaded from smstemplates.net via “Google images”)

 

 

Recently, a friend lamented that his mother “never trusted her intelligence.”   She had started college, but never completed, and became content in her position as a teacher’s aide, rather than a teacher.  Of course, one is not necessarily better than the other.  However, the reason for her not pursuing her degree – not trusting her intelligence – is an interesting one, and may lie at the heart of why a nontraditional student does not return to college, even though earning a degree might allow the potential student to go to the “next level” of her/his profession.

 

Each of us is the unique result of our background, family environment, culture, education, religion and experiences.  Because we adapt to our circumstances, we may come to believe that our upbringing and current cultural environment has predetermined our future.  For instance, you may have been raised in a blue-collar environment where the nobility of labor has been emphasized, rather than the pursuit of higher education.  Perhaps, no one in your family has ever earned a bachelor’s degree, so you see it as something that has no application in the “real world.”  You may have even shared with co-workers your curiosity about college, only to be teased and ridiculed.  Yet, there lies in the back of your mind a curiosity, a stirring of interest, in how pursuing a college degree could enhance – and change – your life.

 

You know you are smart.  People tell you that all the time.  You want to know more, but are not sure where to go or what to do.  It is so much easier to continue with the path of your life that you have laid down – retire with the same company, or perhaps your family’s business.  But, to do so does not mean that you cannot satisfy your curiosity about additional possibilities.  Allow yourself the joy of discovery, including the discovery of where your intelligence can take you.  Trust your intelligence.  Trust yourself.

“She is very determined …” (Success Stories Series)

 

LLCC Spotlight(Reprinted from Lincoln Land Community College web site, “In the Spotlight, retrieved 9.26.11)

80-year-old student inspires young college students

“It’s never too late to achieve your dreams,” says Marian Johnson

Ask LLCC students, faculty and staff about Marian Johnson and you’re likely to hear comments such as “she is incredible,” “she exudes an extreme amount of joy to everyone she meets,” “she has so many life experiences,” “she is an inspiration to many” or “she is very determined.”

At age 80, Marian was determined to graduate with an associate degree.

Marian led a full life before returning to school. At 27, she stepped in to raise two younger brothers, aged seven and 14, when her mother passed away. After both boys were out on their own, she began taking care of another brother who was injured in World War II. Throughout her life, she also served as a foster parent, helping to raise and mentor 17 children.

Retiring from Illinois Bell in 1982 after 37 years, Marian enrolled at LLCC to work on an associate degree in nursing. However, she was impatient to get back to work and switched to LPN classes offered at the Capital Area Career Center.  She then worked as a private duty nurse, retiring from St. John’s Hospital in 2003 and from Presbyterian Home in 2007.

In 2008, Marian returned to LLCC. She credits Dr. John Roberts, professor of history, with encouraging her to finish her degree. “Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from here. I have received a lot of support from faculty, staff and fellow students,” says Marian.  “LLCC is an extraordinary place no matter what your age. The younger students don’t treat me any differently; they involve me in conversations and discussions. They don’t seem to mind that I’m an ‘old lady.’”

Marian clearly inspires her fellow students. Her 19-year-old peer tutor, Natalie Richardson (shown here at Commencement with Marian) commented, “I think I learned more from her than she learned from me.  She taught me about life, which is so useful. Although she is 80, she’s embracing and pursuing something she’s always wanted to do.”

Marian graduated with her associate degree this May and says, “I’d tell anyone thinking of coming back to college that it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.”

Too many choices?

(Photo copied from likeadayoff.blogspot.com under “Google images”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Recently, I received an e-mail from a Non-Traditional Student (NTS) who said he was at a confusing place right now in both his academic and professional careers.  He had started back to college a couple of years ago after over two decades of entertaining the idea.  He took a few courses, did well, and was energized by the opportunities that were beginning to present themselves to him.  Does he quit the job he has held for over 20 years?  Does he fulfill a lifelong dream of opening a restaurant?  Maybe go into real estate?  How would this all be expressed on a resumé?

Sometimes when we discover that we have options – that we no longer are tethered by our current career choice – we can become overwhelmed with the sudden deluge of choices.  We can go from feeling that we are at a dead-end to facing so many forks in the road that we are frozen with indecision.

This is a “good problem.”  What these forks in the road mean is that you recognize that you have the ability to create your future.

But, what if you feel that you may have taken the “wrong” road?  Here you are, an NTS who is finally getting back to school.  You feel that time is already slipping through the hourglass so you think you cannot afford to make mistakes.  Well, you can take yourself off of the hook here.  There are no mistakes or failures – only results.  There is a story of the great inventor, Thomas Edison, that goes:  “Edison tried over 9,000 times to create the incandescent light bulb.  When asked if he felt like a failure, he replied, ‘No, because I now know over 9,000 ways not to create the light bulb’.”

This is learning.  This is experience.  Live your life without regret for the choices you have made thus far.  Because, without those choices, you would not have the information to make the decisions you need to make today.  So what if you take the road that did not get the results you expected.  Now you know.  Now you can make a more informed decision.

If the dilemma of “too many choices” is new to you – enjoy it!  It means that you have created numerous possibilities for yourself.  Think of it like a restaurant menu.  Your future should have many options.  After all, do you want to keep returning to a restaurant that has only one item on the menu?

“Setting Yourself Free” (another view on the idea of “perfectionism”)

(Reprinted from the 8.12.2011 post of The Daily Om)

According to The Daily Om, we need to remember that being imperfect is part of being human.  This interesting article is a nice complement to the previous post “I’m a perfectionist” from 8.1.11

Life becomes much more interesting once we let go of our quest for perfection and aspire for imperfection instead.
 

It is good to remember that one of our goals in life is to not be perfect. We often lose track of this aspiration. When we make mistakes, we think that we are failing or not measuring up. But if life is about experimenting, experiencing, and learning, then to be imperfect is a prerequisite. Life becomes much more interesting once we let go of our quest for perfection and aspire for imperfection instead.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t strive to be our best. We simply accept that there is no such thing as perfection—especially in life. All living things are in a ceaseless state of movement. Even as you read this, your hair is growing, your cells are dying and being reborn, and your blood is moving through your veins. Your life changes more than it stays the same. Perfection may happen in a moment, but it will not last because it is an impermanent state. Trying to hold on to perfection or forcing it to happen causes frustration and unhappiness.

In spite of this, many of us are in the habit of trying to be perfect. One way to nudge ourselves out of this tendency is to look at our lives and notice that no one is judging us to see whether or not we are perfect. Sometimes, perfectionism is a holdover from our childhood—an ideal we inherited from a demanding parent. We are adults now, and we can choose to let go of the need to perform for someone else’s approval. Similarly, we can choose to experience the universe as a loving place where we are free to be imperfect. Once we realize this, we can begin to take ourselves less seriously and have more fun. Imperfection is inherent to being human. By embracing your imperfections, you embrace yourself.

“I’m a perfectionist.”

By Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

 

Have you ever said that?

I was one of those “perfectionists” a long time ago.  Then, I began to realize what I was actually saying – and doing.

First, I finally became aware that using a standard of “perfectionism” – an unattainable goal – gave me an excuse either to not attempt something or not complete it.  “It” could never be perfect, so what was the point in trying?  I felt that I was avoiding putting myself in an inevitably failing position – and that was a good thing (or, so I thought).  This mindset created an obstacle for returning to school.  Because I did poorly in math in high school, I would, of course, do poorly in college.  Why would I set myself up for failure?  Consequently, for 5 years I put off attending Schenectady County Community College, even though I really wanted to try.

Second, if I did attempt the “whatever,” I left no “wiggle room” and, therefore, no latitude for changes and adjustments.  This mindset produces unnecessary stress on an individual.  I recall the first math class I took upon my enrollment in Schenectady County Community College, and the first exam.  I earned a 98%.  Believe it or not, I was furious!  I argued with the instructor for quite some time after class.  To me, not having a 100% was the same as failing.  Rather than rejoicing in earning an A+ on the first exam, I left shaken and disappointed with myself.

What happened with these two scenarios is that I undermined any chance at success.  By dong so, I reinforced an already-low self-esteem.  “Perfectionism” was a trap that kept me from moving forward.  I remember when I earned my first “B” at the Community College (Psychology II, I think), a family member expressed great relief.  Apparently, I had been pushing so hard for the academic “Holy Grail” of GPAs – the 4.0 – that my family was beginning to notice the stress taking its toll on me.  By earning a “B,” I had to simply resolve to do my best for the remainder of my courses.  I ended up with a 3.86 GPA upon graduation with my Associate’s.

By the time I graduated, I had learned to let go of “perfectionism” and replace it with goal-setting.  As I crossed off all the goals I had attained – each course, each semester, and finally, graduation – my self-esteem began to become more positive.  The unattainable “perfectionism” had been eclipsed by attainable goals.  This set up an empowering pattern of achievement that would sustain me for the rest of my academic career.

So, the next time you say to yourself “I’m a perfectionist,” ask yourself “Why?”  Is it helping you create a better future or is it, in reality, what is holding you back?

 

The Fuel of Self-Doubt

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

 

The other day I had lunch with a colleague.  We reflected on our experiences in our respective doctoral programs – she at Columbia University and me at the University of Utah.  Even though we were enrolled at different times and at different places, we shared one important thing in common – self-doubt.  We both felt that while we were in the programs, that we shouldn’t be there and that we would probably never complete the required exams and dissertation.

Some of the self-doubt came from the lack of support – or “negative support” – from  family members.  Our pursuing our education was resented by some of the people closest to us.  In addition, we compared ourselves to our cohorts and felt like we were out of place.  We subordinated ourselves to the opinions and performances of others.

In the companion book to this blog – also entitled You Can Do College – I recount all the self-doubt I had from the time I entered into the local Community College on through to the last weeks of my Ph.D. program.  The doubt finally evaporated when I earned my last degree and actually held the piece of paper that confirmed my achievement.  (I wonder, though, if the self-doubt would return if I decided to pursue another degree.)

Self-doubt appears to be a part of the process.  We put ourselves into new situations and new environments.  This takes us outside of our comfort zones.  Let’s face it – it just feels weird.  We are immersed into a learning environment where it means that we are no longer the experts in our field.  As Non-Traditional Students, we are generally the oldest in the class and wonder if we will be able to keep up with the concepts, with the technology, and with the other students.  We give ourselves all kinds of reasons to doubt our abilities.

Still, one must persevere.  In spite of all of the doubts, my colleague and I finished every program we began.  There was no coasting through, however.  The road we took was littered with stumbling blocks – time management, family needs, money, work issues and so on.  Some of the other stumbling blocks, though, we put there ourselves – most of which were born out of self-doubt.  Yet, we completed everything we started, making our accomplishments even sweeter.

Is this where you are?  Are you doubting your ability to return to school?  Are others adding to your own insecurities by discrediting your academic ambition?  Does it seem that you will be out of place in a college learning environment?  Enrolling into a program will not make those insecurities go away, but, as you earn good grades, your insecurities and doubt will lessen.

Perhaps self-doubt is the fuel that helps us to push ourselves.  You have probably said to yourself at one time or another, “If I can do this, I can do anything.”  The key word is “do.”  Don’t spend so much time overthinking your enrollment into college that you delay taking action month after month, year after year.  One thing is for certain:  getting a higher education is a no-lose proposition.  You can never be worse off for having attended college.  So, let the doubts be what pushes you – and then you will feel like you can do anything.

 

The Empowerment of Accountability

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

(Photo credit:  David Richardson accessed via Google images, 6.26.11)

I have been thinking a lot about the people in my life, primarily my daughter and son-in-law who – everyday – assume the monumental responsibilities associated with owning their own business, and providing physical, emotional and intellectual care for their 15 year-old son, who has cerebral palsy.  Both of these challenges require a commitment that is relentless and riddled with obstacles.  BUT, the rewards are the fuel that propels them onward.

These rewards are made possible through the simple act of being accountable for their own thoughts and actions.  To put it another way, they do not play the “victim” card when it comes to the circumstances in both their personal and professional lives.  On the rare occasion when a deadline has not been met or a client conveys dissatisfaction, they do not point the finger at others, and other things, and say, “It’s not our fault.”  Maybe the unmet deadline or unhappy client occurred because of technical problems or an oversight, but they go about identifying the problem and fixing it, rather than becoming defensive about the circumstances.  Because, no matter what the reasons behind their immediate dilemma, the bottom line is, it is up to them to turn things around.  They would rather use their time to create a solution rather than lament about the problem.  This accountability, or the assumption of responsibility for one’s actions, also applies to their business successes.  When their clients are delighted with the completion of a project, it is the result of my daughter and son-in-law’s efforts, not outside forces.

In addition, they do not play the “victim” card when it comes to their son.  Everyday encompasses both the routine and unexpected.  After visiting them (they live in another state), I always return home and tell my friends and colleagues that my daughter and son-in-law live a “different life from you and me.”  The things we take for granted, such as jumping in the car to run to Home Depot, requires an hour’s worth of preparation when they take their son.  Again, they could sit back and say, “Life’s not fair” and sulk about the circumstances.  Rather, they ensure that their son is included in everything – whether choosing the movie to watch that night or going on vacation (which means finding locales and places to stay that have accommodations for wheelchairs).  The rewards come in their son’s progress.  At 15, he is slowly learning to walk, can name all the U.S. Presidents since Hoover, and is working on learning President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Day that will live in infamy” speech.  Their assuming responsibility for their son’s most minute needs also gives them the opportunity to assume responsibility for their son’s most minute successes.

People who either do not understand the connection between their actions and subsequent outcomes, or refuse to accept the connection astound me.  Two family members come immediately to mind.  The first periodically goes through long stretches of time where he does not call me because, as he says, I “challenge him.”  He is the perpetual victim who has drowned his life in alcohol.  He complains that he does not have money to do anything.  When I remind him that he has chosen this life, he recoils.  The same is true for the other family member.  She went for a long period of time of withdrawal from me for the same reason.  She didn’t like being “challenged.”  Although she is not an alcoholic, she is in a continual state of depression over the circumstances of her life (e.g. She quit her job without creating a financial plan to sustain her.).   Both of these family members could have created positive changes in their lives, but for some reason found the act of being accountable threatening.  Neither of them understood the power behind being the “captain of your own ship” and mapping your course.

These are two sides of the same coin of accountability.  Understanding the connection between your actions and the results in your life lifts you up and moves you forward.  The other side, that of denial of responsibility, leaves you stuck in an emotional and physical quagmire.  This means that the simple act of being asked, “Why are things the way they are?” can be a productive impetus to resolving problems, or a question that becomes offensive.  The former leaves you empowered, the latter leaves you powerless.

So, where are you in this scenario?  Chances are, you are somewhere in between.  You know your talents and probably accept your ability to use those talents for different levels of success.  For instance, if cars are your passion, you may use your talent to keep the family’s car out of the repair shop, or perhaps, you have rebuilt a classic car.  However, you may not have yet made the connection between other abilities and other actions.

Maybe you have thought about returning to school but have not done so because you don’t think you belong, or you think it’s too big of a challenge?  Maybe you have always wanted to, but are afraid?  If you accept the responsibility for your future – including all of the challenges that may be thrown at you – you will have empowered yourself to take control of your life.