I’ve been asked more than once why I decided to go back to school, and specifically, why in the hell I would major in English. Usually I brush people off, because honestly, I’m almost 30 now and I just really don’t have time for people who don’t understand or aren’t positive about my journey these days. Like, if you don’t get it, then IDFWY and that’s that. It occurred to me recently, however, that maybe I shouldn’t be so dismissive; so, I thought I’d touch on the subject here.

A couple of years ago, I was playing restaurant with M and M. We took each other’s orders and served the food and giggled about how there really should be a restaurant that served pizza AND cheeseburgers like our pretend restaurant did. As we were eating our pretend meal, Maizie announced that she wanted to be a waitress just like me when she grew up. Now, on one hand, I was flattered that she wanted to be like her mom, but on the other hand, I was heartbroken at how low I’d set the bar. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to put down servers in any way. I’ve been one full and part time off and on since high school. Serving has provided much needed cash flow in my home and many times that extra cash is what kept me afloat. It’s a difficult and many times thankless job and it isn’t that I wouldn’t be proud of them if they chose that as a career, because I will be proud of my girls no matter what career they choose. It was their ability to choose that worried me.

I couldn’t stop thinking about their future. I worried myself sick about whether they would ever see all of the options before them, or if they would feel like some things were out of reach, as I had for so long. I realized that telling them they could do anything wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to tell them to set goals and it wasn’t enough to buy them books about adventurous girls. I had to show them.

Flash forward to last night. They are two years older and I just completed my first semester back in school. The girls and I are talking about dreams and goals and Maddie says, “My number one goal is to go to UCLA after I graduate from Ole Miss,” then Maizie follows her up with, “I want to go to Ole Miss and I want to be a Vet.” Although Maizie was heartbroken to hear that Ole Miss doesn’t have a Vet school, she was relieved that there were other options besides Mississippi State. (Side note: I am not an Ole Miss fan, but as long as they want to go to college it’s whatever forever.) In that moment, I knew exactly how the Grinch felt at the end of the book when his heart grows several sizes because mine felt like it would burst.

So to answer all of the people who don’t understand why I’m going back to school and particularly why I’m majoring in English: this is why. It’s because they needed to know what it looks like to set a goal and see it through. They needed to know that it’s never too late. They needed to know that the world is big and full of possibilities. They needed to know that the world doesn’t end at the Monroe County line, and now they know and so do I and that feels really good to all of us. And whatever we choose to do school wise, career wise, or what have you, it won’t be because we didn’t know.

Raising brave women is not for the faint of heart. You not only have to teach the lessons, you have to be a living breathing example of the lessons and that’s all I’m trying to do here. Maybe I will become a real published writer one day; maybe I will hang my degree on the wall and keep waiting tables. I really don’t know and won’t know until the time comes to make that choice. But I do know this, whatever I do, it will be my choice.