My first time in a classroom was my first day of college. I was homeschooled, & the idea of raising your hand for anything, let alone permission, still doesn’t suit me.
It was weird to sit with a bunch of people, most of whom didn’t want to be there, listening to someone talk who (in my experience) didn’t want to be there either. I forced myself to sit however.
People made me nervous as I struggled through continuous trauma therapy & the duel life of a student who was trying to become human again after sexual abuse. When I would start shaking or crying without knowing why, I’d excuse myself to the bathroom to rock back & forth perched on the campus toilets, ignoring beautiful girls in leggings who asked if I was okay. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this.
My mom and dad and sister were proud. They cheered me on, they KNEW I could do it. They told me they believed in me. The man from my past who told me I wasn’t allowed to go to school, that I wasn’t SMART-was nowhere to be found.
Two years of forcing myself on campus & being just miserable, I had a conversation with my mother. “Just go be Adrian” she said. She knew what I had booked shows over weekends, driving through the night to make it back, trying to accomplish homework & not fall asleep at the wheel.
That did it.
My dad helped me build the chuck box in the back of the truck out of a 60s blue bookcase. I packed up too many books, a crate full of CD’s, & signed up for twice as many classes as before.
Then I drove off. Without a plan except to sing and survive.
My favorite memory of my college career is doing homework sitting at my tailgate with a beer as the Snake river thrashed. I sent in my work later at a truck stop, & the grade I received told me that my A+ grade came from an A+ lifestyle.
I’d found the secret.
It still wasn’t easy, I made choices to study instead of partying. I worked until 3 in the morning sometimes then drove to get to the next show & did homework when I returned from performing. I wrote essays in national parks, wrote to my teachers from mountaintops, while reading the books that taught me education in a different way all on my own. I had taught myself to love to learn again.
My college wasn’t limited to four walls and a desk.
It was Yellowstone, it was Yosemite. It was Jackson Hole, Pocatello & Kansas. Eugene & the Big Loop. It was horseback, on foot, dirty, tired & wild. Dancing around campfires on the desert & sleeping next to ghost towns & swimming naked in the lakes, eating cheap, living out loud. It wasn’t tame, it was just perfect.
I am so thankful.
Because this piece of paper isn’t a simple college diploma.
That was easy.
This is learning how to live again.
This was taking back the pain, anger, sadness & the wreck of a girl that abuse left behind.
Learning to be Adrian again.
I hope you learn who you are.
What you are, what you want.
I promise it is worth it.