Friday, January 12, 2007

Facing My Fears

One of the perks of working for a community college is that I get free tution. After considering all the different things our winter schedule had to offer, this term I enrolled in two online classes: Intermediate Algebra and College Composition.

I do not "need" either of these courses for any program or credential. I have in fact completed comparable classes many moons ago when I did my undergrad degree. However, I want to learn what these classes have to offer, so I'm jumping in full blast with both feet. I am both nervous and excited about taking this challenge on.

I've NEVER been strong in math. Beyond that, having not used Algebra much for the past 20 years I've forgotten most of what I ever had learned. This Algebra class is a chance for me to face down my years-long math anxiety once and for all. I'm hoping that if I really apply myself this time, with the intent to truly master the concepts rather than merely jumping through hoops of college requirements, I can build a strength in place of the weakness I now have.

As for the college comp class ---I'm thinking it will help me polish my writing, my critical thinking and give me some practice in taking criticism with grace. At least that's what I hope to accomlish. I'm taking it from the toughest teacher on campus - a real gem of a guy who I like and respect, but someone I know has a well earned reputation of being a sadist with a red pen. He is a ruthless editor of student work and has incredibly high expectations. We'll see how it goes.

Then, last but not least, I've started swimming in the college pool a few days a week on my lunch hours. Most of my early life I was TERRIFIED of water. I experienced a couple nasty near drownings as a kid and never entirely let go of the fear those episodes triggered. I finally got over the worst of the panic as an adult and did learn to swim enough to get by, though not well. When my husband took up scuba diving I tried taking lessons twice so I could go with him on his adventures as his dive buddy...Not a chance! No matter how hard I tried, I just didn't have enough confidance in the water and having on all the equipment made me totally claustrophobic.

I've avoided water for the most part, with occassional forays that were never entirely comfortable. Now I am ready to try again. I'm doing pool time to give my body some much needed exercise and to get more comfortable just being in the water. I won't ever be a great swimmer. With practice, however, I can get stronger at it than I am and hopefully conquer that lingering anxiety.

Next term I'm planning to look for some "fun" classes, like maybe ceramics or yoga. But this time around I deliberately want to face my fears and give myself a chance to develop in these areas.

We'll see how it goes...

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