I believe in getting yourself in over your head

Author: Alexis Lohse, TCU Student, Political Science Major, Published Fall 2012

I believe in getting yourself in over your head. I can say with all honesty that the best decisions in my life have been made during situations of extreme discomfort or duress. These have been times when I was confronted with new and sometimes frightening circumstances, often of my own making and sometimes quite intentional. Eleanor Roosevelt once quipped, “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” Thanks to these trials, I have learned the true strength of my intelligence, patience, and perseverance.

The first time I was truly tested was at the age of 23 when I was married to an alcoholic and became pregnant. Up to that point, my life had been an aimless string of events and dead-end jobs, a period of time marked by a distinct lack of concern for my present and even less concern for my future. With the unexpected appearance of a “+” on the test strip, I instantly realized the gravity of my situation. Everything had changed. It was time for me to step up, whether I felt ready or not, because life was no longer just about me.

The subsequent 2 years of my life were an arduous metamorphosis. I managed a healthy pregnancy (without insurance), I gave birth to an 8 lb. baby (at home), I got a real grown-up job at an insurance company, and I divorced my husband. It was scary, it was difficult, and it was absolutely worth it.

More recently, I have intentionally created situations where I had to succeed under threat of fantastic failure. In the last 4 years, my life has undergone yet another total metamorphosis. After working in the marketing department of that same insurance company for over 5 years, I realized a change had to happen. I wanted more from life and it was time to challenge myself again. On a whim, I bought a house from my (new) in-laws and moved my family to Fort Worth. After trying for 10 months to find local employment, I eventually quit my steady job in Austin and went back to school at the age of 30.

The increased responsibility of a mortgage and the decreased security of a steady corporate job have made for some ulcer-inducing months, for sure. More than once I have wondered if I am being unreasonably selfish by pursuing my education at the expense of the financial security of my family. My parents never went to college, so I am striving to set a good example for my girls by getting my degree. I can only hope my daughters see how hard I am trying and are internalizing the same work ethic.

I know this is not the last time I will challenge myself. Even at my advanced age (31!), I will have many more opportunities to get myself out of (self-inflicted) hot water. I may not always succeed, but I am certain I will be better for having tried.

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