Threw away educational opportunities

by Cabin in the woods 19 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Cabin in the woods
    Cabin in the woods

    I actually wrote this late last night and when I tried to submit it I was rejected. The reason for that is still a mystery to me and I vowed not to rewrite it as it would mean visiting myself and that is never easy.

    Sometimes as I look through the site and read to many posts I marvel at the beauty of the words and the complexity of the reasoning. Many of you are absolutely brilliant, many of you are educated but all of us share a past that is not easy to look back on.

    I ask if anyone here has walked away from a higher education not to be nosey but to help me to deal with my own anger.

    I walked away from 3 opportunities for a free college education. The first time in 1971 I had never even spoke with a witness so the decision was that of a foolish, 18 year old. girl whose eyes were filled with stars.

    The second time was in 1983 I had received my divorce papers, my mother just died. I lived in Burlington as a witness mom with 3 very young boys and a bus that did not run into town after 7 pm. and many of the classes I wanted were evening . We lived on less than 9,000 a year and there was simply NO WAY I could afford a car or anything to do this.

    The field was art education and I love portrait work. This was the opportunity that meant the most to me. Of course I would have studied creative writing as well!

    The 3 rd was in nursing. The nursing facility that I had just started work at offered me a chance to go to college in medicine and/or nursing and study for any position that I wanted and yes that could be from L N up to and including physician assistant. They would pay it all! I just had to work a designated amount of time for them in return.

    But being a good little witness girl by that point I knew that I could not maintain any meeting attendance, work full time, school, raising the boys etc. with absolutely NO help from anyone . Plus we all know the evils of education.

    Of course, I am angry. For years I stopped writing, painting, drawing and for several years was so devastated I even lost my voice. Internal and external.

    Neither my husband nor my boys know of these events/ ‘non-events’.

    I did take a few college day courses on my own, creative writing, drawing, English and psych. Pastel portraiture etc.

    Had on the job management training ya da, ya da …That should bring down a $60,000 a year job, huh?!

    I can forgive the WT for discouraging these chances but I cannot seem to forgive them for killing my spark and crippling my spirit.

    I no longer have spontaneity, joy, the ability to ad lib, express my core feelings or to enjoy being with myself. Often when I try to write a message there are no words I am void.

    My boys see these changes and have told me that they are ashamed of me. Ashamed of whom I am because I am no longer able to communicate well. Not once has anyone asked me why.

    I guess this goes under introductions … there is more but this is all that I can handle for now.

    You are all good people and I am so glad that we have each other.


  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee


    it seems to me that the choice to not go to school (2nd and 3rd time) was a balancing act of priorities.

    Of course, I am angry. For years I stopped writing, painting, drawing and for several years was so devastated I even lost my voice. Internal and external .

    Your feelings of anger can be dealt with. Interests can be picked up again. Just because they were put on the shelf doesn't mean you can't dust them off and find new pleasures

    Neither my husband nor my boys know of these events/ ‘non-events’

    Maybe it is time to begin sharing these interests

    I did take a few college day courses on my own, creative writing, drawing, English and psych. Pastel portraiture etc

    How did that make you feel? Did it stir up those old interests? If so pick them up or explore other interests.

    I can forgive the WT for discouraging these chances but I cannot seem to forgive them for killing my spark and crippling my spirit .

    The essence of who we are, our thoughts, our beliefs, our interests, our passion are never killed off. They lie dormant inside waiting for a time when we feel it is safe enough to let them surface

    I no longer have spontaneity, joy, the ability to ad lib, express my core feelings or to enjoy being with myself. Often when I try to write a message there are no words I am void.

    I would ask you one question for you to answer for yourself (not necessarily to me or the board)

    What are you afraid will happen if you allow some of those wonderful things in you an opportunity to come out and find expression?

    After years as a JW, being constantly told the only good thing to be happy about is meetings, service and prayer, it can be difficult to allow ourselves permission to enjoy the wonderful talents within.

  • disowned&alone

    Hey Cab.

    I feel your pain, but I promise that you can overcome this. I was also offered a full scholarship out of high school to three colleges, one of the, being UCLA, which was the school I had dreamed of attending. Being a witness intent on being a good example, I declined all three offers. The day I graduated high school, I was kicked out of the house by my parents (for questioning JW beliefs) and ended up struggling financially for years. I always wanted to go to college and struggled to do so, but when one has to decide between basic survival and textbooks, survival always prevails.

    Fast forward 8 years.

    I am now a student at one of the top ten universities in the country (UCLA, the school that I had dreamt of attending in my youth), with a full academic scholarship. I was surprised to find that others receiving full scholarships did not fit the "cookie-cutter" stereotypes either. I attend classes with mothers, grandmothers, and people who work full-time. (As do I.) I have also realized that an education is much more than a degree. I have learned to think critically, and challenge that which I don't agree with. No one can strip you of an education and the sense of achievement that comes along with attaining it.

    Please realize that your aspiration to attend college is not a lost one. As long as you are living, you can achieve it. I felt angry too, until I decided to do something about it. Attend a community college and take one class a semester until you feel comfortable. Realize that achieving a college education is a lifetime goal, not something that you have to rush to achieve. Your communication skills are excellent and everything else will come back to you. As a JW, we spent years training how to talk our ways out and into things. These skills will help you.

    I beg you not to give up. Don't spend so much time looking in the rearview mirror that you miss out on what's still to come!!

    Wishing you luck.

  • Cabin in the woods
    Cabin in the woods

    Congratulations Disowned! How many years have you been at UCLA? May I ask what your major is? I bet you enjoy and appreciate every moment that you are there. You deserve it. Sounds like you have been through hell. I really would like to know more about your experience if you would feel comfortable sharing.

    Lady Lee, you are in a class alone! I have read your response many times. One thing that I have planned to do is to join a tiny art gallery that just opened here in Barre. Never before has there been anything like this in up here. I am hoping to find that they are offering a pastel course if not I will jump in and sign up for something to just get my feet wet again. Wooo Hooo.

    Thank you both.


  • parakeet
  • parakeet

    Cabin in the woods: "I ask if anyone here has walked away from a higher education not to be nosey but to help me to deal with my own anger."
    I was still a JW when I graduated from high school, so college was not an option. When I left the org in my mid-20s, I immediately started taking college classes and 7 years later earned a master's degree in English lit.
    I would recommend to anyone, no matter their age, to start taking some classes now, even if you don't want to obtain a degree. It's never too late. The most valuable thing I learned from higher ed is systematic and critical thinking skills. They can be developed without higher ed, but it's a more difficult and roundabout (although much less expensive) method. Once you have these skills, no one can ever again deceive you with false arguments, religious or otherwise.

  • Gamaliel

    Cabin in the woods,

    So the Awake! magazine wasn't satisfactory? I suppose that's not funny anymore.

    The 70's were not a good to be a graduating JW.

    My brother (class of '73) turned down full scholarships to a a few after graduating valedictorian. That was after NOT APPLYING to any colleges. I was class of '75 and had already quit school to pioneer just before I turned 16. In my last year of H.S. at 15 I also had some college options opening up.

    I loved art and my art HS teacher heard I was quitting over the summer in 73. He sent tons of brushes and canvasses and paint and begged me not to quit school. He wanted me to focus on art if nothing else. Instead, I foolishly considered it a contribution to the Kingdom work and sold a few paintings to support my pioneering gas money in '74 through '76. Then In 1976 I went to Bethel and let them take advantage of my art and graphics work for a couple years.

    But I also understand the desire you had for more education. Even while pioneering, I stayed close to the campus, having several Bible studies with college students, and spending many late afternoons in the university library and at my father's electronics lab at the university. I took several courses in all kinds of subjects in their self-study materials cubicles. Especially music theory, science and electronics. One of my Bible studies that got baptized taught me calculus.

    I'm still a little surprised, maybe upset, that my father never tried to override my mother, even though he knew the value of education, working as a full-time electronics engineer, running some development labs and student teaching labs, and as a part-time professor. He was torn between 1975-Armageddon thinking and what might be better in the long-run. (My mother didn't believe in a long-run.) My father had hired another elder, a former Gilead missionary, to work in his main lab. I once heard the "missionary" in early 1975 excitedly arguing about whether Armageddon was coming in October 1, October 4/5 or Tishri something-or-other. My father, for the first time that I recall, basically told him that he didn't believe in 1975. It was a shock in some ways. But I had already applied to Bethel and my future career was set, I thought, no matter what happened in 1975.

    Well, at Bethel in 1976, I practically lived in the libraries. I read all the books I could cover to cover including old Watch Towers and even the Aid book. I learned enough Greek to get some research assignments for a couple projects Bert Schroeder was working on. Unfortunately, what I was reading and these assignments didn't mix very well. There was a very studious brother in Writing who had a Bible study group in his room. When I got invited, I thought I had just been invited to "Harvard". This particular brother broke the myth of how difficult it was to write for the Watchtower. He had written much of the Aid book, and could write a Watchtower study article that went in unedited in its first draft. (Or so others in the department claimed.) Of course, this didn't last long when the powers broke up these studies and labeled them as forms of apostasy.

    When I left, I almost lost my chance to go to college myself, and would still be yearning if it weren't for my marriage to a lovely wife who knew exactly what I was missing. I worked part-time and she worked full-time so I could go.

    The irony is that my mother, who talked my father into retiring too early from the university, finally went to college herself to get her BA. She never told me or my brother or sister. It was her secret. I found out only a few years after her graduation when I realized that her full time job as a teacher (in her 60's) required that minimum of education. She admitted it to me only this year. (Of course, she didn't speak to any of her apostate children much for the last 20 years, until long after the grandkids came along, and she couldn't resist anymore.)

    Anyway. I understand the feeling and hope you can work it all out. I think finishing a satisfactory education is never really complete anyway, but you'll feel better for all that you've done to make up for the past.

    BTW, I cannot bring myself to create a painting anymore. Not since Bethel. I used to love starting a painting and then just going into a kind of "flow" where I was painting for hours on end until the canvas showed me what I wanted. There was hardly anything that brought more joy. I don't know whether to blame Bethel, or that same thing you called "visiting yourself" again. It might just be me.

    Good luck. It sounds like you deal with it as reasonably as possible. Some level of anger over this is natural. As long as it motivates to positive action or at least to move on without repeating past mistakes.


  • juni

    Hi Cab.

    Someone once told me when I felt down about my worth at work this:

    Are you a dog who needs a bone??

    I thought about that. No was my answer. If I don't get a bone so be it. I know I'm good at what I do. If someone does give me a bone, I tell them I appreciate that. Then give them a big old sloppy lick. Just kidding of course.



  • Cabin in the woods
    Cabin in the woods

    Gamaliel, What an incredible journey! I would love to see pics of some of your works. Did you do Watchtowers, Awakes, books or all of the above.

    You know what, I am going to face myself and my personal demons and try painting and drawing again.

    I tried at home several times and it gave me a sick feeling but I am going to go to class and get some new ideas and techniques and then it will feel new to me again. H ave you thought of that? I am certain that it is inside of you still.

    Juni, you are so right on the bone. Sometimes though it is a sick feeling to return to where you have been. But a new space in my head and heart and new ideas should make it a fun journey.


  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    I've been sitting here thinking about this so here are my rambling thoughts

    A few years ago I gave my husband a beautiful pen set. I had it engraved and our anniversary on it. He loved it. And then put it away. He never used it once. And I was hurt. I was glad he liked it but what is the point of giving a person a gift if they are just going to put it away unused?

    Over the years I have come to realize that I have many "gifts" (Don't ask me to sing because that isn't one of them)

    Many of those gifts were hidden and remained hidden when I was a JW. After I left I had to discover what things I loved, enjoyed felt passionately about. It took time but I have been amazed sometimes at my ability to do things, small things, big things. I even look back and wonder how I managed to do some of those things.

    I suspect that one of the reasons I was depressed was that so many things inside of me had to be repressed -- heck even the being depressed was hidden.

    When I was working with abuse survivors so many told me they had no idea what they liked because they never had a chance to learn about things - they were just trying to survive. Slowly they would show me some of the things they were discovering. One made porcelain flower, another made jewellery, other stained glass, another learned to play the guitar and so many others. Some wrote, some sang. They were all awesome. They put their hearts into what they were learning. Some discovered that they didn't like something as much as they thought they did but then went off in another direction and discovered something else they could be passionate about.

    I was so sad for a couple of young men in our cong. who used to play in the band at DC. When they ended the orchestra they both gave up their talent to knock on doors. How sad.

    How sad is it to have a gift and not use it?

    If you believe in a God that gave you these gifts I suspect He might feel the way I did when my husband stashed the pen set away.

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