Castles in the air

A in Calc 1A.  I only know that because the grades are officially published; haven't heard anything from the professor about how well I did on the final itself, but the A in the class is the important part.

That started me down a rabbithole regarding my prior college experience and how it's going to affect me going forward, though.  In short, 20 years ago, I got Fs in 6 classes over two semesters because I tried signing up and then basically never went. 

Now, in most situations, you can go through a process called "academic renewal" or "forgiveness" and erase up to two semesters from the past.  My current school will do that once you get enough credits with good enough grades.  But they can't/won't "erase" the grades from another school.  And the old school doesn't count other institutions in its forgiveness policy: I'd have to attend 24 units there to get them to process the renewal.  Since it's 50 miles away and, frankly, I'm not sure I can find 24 units worth of classes I can take online, that's not likely to happen.

The other option is to re-take those classes at the new school and get better grades in them.  I can do that for most of them, I think, but only one (maybe two; the second isn't exact) would count towards the classes I need to transfer.  And I'm already running smack into the maximum transferable credits limit.  So, if I take them, I'll have to do so in addition to everything else I'm taking.

That's not necessarily impossible.  I could do one or two over the summer, for example.

If I *don't* wipe them out somehow, the absolute best I could possibly do GPA-wise including the transferred classes is about a 3.2, and that's if I get straight As at the current school.  It's entirely likely that I could go just submit to 4-years point out that those two semesters were 20 years ago and thus not representative of my recent progress; I know the "fail-safe" school will accept that kind of statement, as long as it's explained.  I just don't know about some of the others.

So, I've got some deciding to do, and I'll need to talk to the counselor to find out exactly what the options are.  There's also the off-chance that the old school will change its policy at some point, or that I could petition them separately and have them consider forgiving those semesters or at least turning them into Ws anyway (especially since there's no real way to meet the requirements as stated).

But the main point is that I have several possible paths, and some realistic options in each of them.  In spite of the potential difficulties here, I'm actually comforted by looking into it.

In happier/more general news, really geeking out about the SpaceX landing last night.  I watched it happen "live" and was basically cheering right along with the staff in Torrance.  This kind of thing is exactly why I'm pursuing an aerospace degree, even if I'll be in my 40s before I get it.

For both of these topics, there's a quote from Pratchett that seems appropriate:

It takes someone with their feet planted firmly on the ground to build castles in the air.

The permanent blur

I've started the process of renewing my ADHD diagnosis.  I'm not sure what I'll do when (if?) it's renewed - I've never much liked the idea of medication, but there may be advantages for school.

But the initial intake meeting with a therapist in the psychiatry department kind of threw me a little.

Talking with the therapist, we went over all the ways I've learned to compensate: making lists, setting timers and reminders, using routines and patterns, handling tasks in the moment rather than delaying them until later (when they'll get forgotten), planning ahead (sometimes excessively), double-checking my work almost constantly, etc.

After going over all this, and as we're getting ready to leave, I made a comment like, "But, even with all this, I'm generally content and happy."

She kind of smiled at me and said, "Well, other than the constant anxiety and self doubt, right?"

I looked at her questioningly, and she stopped walking and rattled off half a dozen things I'd just said - but pointed out how almost all of them involve being unsure of myself or assuming that I'm going to make errors or screw up.  "You're compensating well, but you're still compensating.  That has to take its toll over time."  She just watched me a moment, and then said, "... and you never even realized that was there, did you?"

"No," I replied, "I didn't.  But you're right."

One of my favorite quotes comes from the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead":
All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque.
 I know people who are wracked with self-doubt.  I know people who have massive cases of imposter syndrome.  I know folks for whom depression is a day-to-day struggle.  Whenever I think of anxiety or self-doubt, I think about these people.

But the truth is, she's right.  My reason for seeking out the new diagnosis, for making it official, is (and I told her this) because I want to have every possible tool at my disposal for succeeding in school.  It's important to me this time, far more than I realized until a few weeks ago - and to be frank, there's a part of me that is absolutely terrified at screwing up again.

I've openly told people that I'm keeping the fact of attending school under wraps because I don't know if I'll keep at it or make it through: I dropped out once, so while I think things have changed significantly, I have to accept the possibility that I'll blow it again this time for whatever reason.  That *is* a statement of self-doubt - couched in subtler or sardonic terms, perhaps, but it's there.

And it runs far, far deeper than I think I've ever admitted to myself.  I mean, I know what I'm capable of.  I have a healthy ego (some would say too healthy) about such things.  But at the same time, there's this underlying bit that knows everything could go off the rails and the constant worry that today' the day it'll happen.

It's analogous to being gay.  Coming out isn't a one-time event - it's something we do every time we meet a new coworker or friend-of-a-friend or vendor or anyone.  We assess the situation, decide whether or not it's important or a risk (or both), weigh it all, and then act.  For some of us lucky enough to be in progressive areas, it's something we do almost instinctively at this point, much like I my ADHD compensations are largely automatic.

But it's still there, and it's still this low-level anxiety.  It's one I'm aware of - it's part of why I love vacationing at gay resorts, and it's something I talk about with people all the time as an example of (lack of) privilege.

The ADHD aspect, though, is something I was never really aware of.  I can't deny it, nor do I know that there's anything I can do to stop it.  It's a fact of who I am.  But it's something to think about, and frankly I think it affects my life far more than being gay.

It's not often someone broadsides me like that.