Hiding from 50

According to people who post statistics on the Internet, some 4 million Americans will be turning 50 this year. Notice I didn’t say, “FOUR MILLION AMERICANS WILL BE CELEBRATING THEIR 50TH BIRTHDAYS in 2014!” As someone who turns 50 in just four days, that seems a bit optimistic.

Don’t get me wrong – turning 50 is a lot better than the obvious alternative – but it’s making me feel all reflective-y. I’m almost 50. I have two college degrees and my own business, but I haven’t collected a check in nearly a year. I’m – bare minimum – 20 pounds overweight. (Realistically, who knows?) I’m a terrible nonsmoker, and I think exercise is a wonderful thing other people do. So lets break it down.

I do have two college degrees. I want a third: a Ph.D. I want to be Dr. Stacy. It’s a personal goal. I’m good at being a student. I like learning. I also need to pay off my grad school student loans. It’s only been five years since I finished that one. But wait… It took me 12 years to get my bachelor’s degree. (I graduated high school in May 1981 and college in December 1993.) Getting the master’s degree was a lot easier, starting in fall 2007 and finishing summer 2009. Told you I was good at being a student. Not as good at doing the math necessary to figure all of this out. In fact, I’m sure it’s wrong. Whatever. I’m a word person.

And it’s the word versus number thing that hangs me up. I would really like to study sociology. With a bachelor’s in public relations and a master’s in applied politics, I already study how targeted groups think and react to messages. Every time a Ferguson-type uprising occurs, I can’t help but think about why it happens. What compels people to think and act the way they do? How can we convince them to think or act differently? In other words, why do people riot, shop, vote, argue, whatever, they way they do, and how can we persuade them to do something else?

Another example… There’s a whole thing in low-income, urban communities, where new mothers refuse to use generic baby formula to feed their newborns. The brand identities of Enfamil and Similac are incredibly strong. In fact, a quick Google search on the topic pulls up a million results from mom blogs to the Mayo Clinic. Still, the need is nutrition for babies. The need is to show moms that (1) providing the best nutrition for your child is your first goal and (2) both name brand and generic-label baby formulas provide that nutrition.

I want to do something major. I want to be the driving force behind some huge group of people realizing they should do something differently. I NEED to do it. But I can’t go back to school because I can’t take the GRE. No. I can TAKE the GRE. I don’t believe I can PASS the GRE, or at least pass it in a way that gets me into a doctoral program. It’s the stupid math part of the exam. I can take – and ace – any word-related tests thrown my way. But when I start thinking of calculus or polynomials, my chest gets tight, my pits get damp and my stomach churns. I honestly have no idea what a polynomial is. I Googled “math on GRE” and saw it. At least I can spell it. And use Google.

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