At forty-four I find myself physically better off than I was at thirty-four. I exercise five days a week for at least thirty-five minutes a day. I try to eat right and stay active too, all things designed to help me maintain and even improve my health, but what am I doing to develop my mental wellbeing? Inactivity and poor diet choices can very quickly undo all the efforts I have made to be fit. What am I feeding my mind? What am I doing to exercise my intellect?
Because high school was such a struggle for me, college never entered my mind. My parents never even discussed it. I thought I was done with school forever and was elated at the thought of never having to step foot inside a classroom again. I had a full time job from the age of sixteen and figured my life would “figure itself out,” all I had to do was show up and work. I didn’t worry about a “career” or bettering myself until the stark reality of a corporate buyout eliminated my job. I was confident that fourteen years of experience would at least open a few doors for me, but the lack of a college degree denied me even an interview.
Now I was all but forced back inside a classroom, terrified at the challenge and angry at the world for being forced to do so. But something unexpected happened along the way; I discovered I was a much better student in college than I was in high school. I wasn’t enjoying being in school, but at least I knew I could handle it.
Being a college student, especially so late in my life I had to learn how to learn again, and now as a media professional and scholar, this I believe; the pursuit of education should be a lifelong endeavor. I am not a fan of class work, school projects, and tests, but I have discovered a true desire to gain new knowledge. For the past four years I have been pursuing the bachelor’s degree I was completely uninterested in twenty-six years ago.
And while I will be thrilled to complete my degree I know my quest for knowledge will never truly end. Since enrolling in college I’m much more selective about my TV viewing and radio listening choices. Literature is now a leisure activity option never considered before. And I’m involved in community activities and pay more attention to what’s going on in the world spending my awareness on topics of substance instead of flash.
Opening my mind has made me a better “me.” I think more critically and consider things I wouldn’t have before. Intentional learning is a part of me now because I know that fitness is just as important for my mind as it is for my body. And I now know that knowledge is a nine letter word and not the four letter word I used to be afraid of.
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