Everyone makes choices. People are a sum of the choices they’ve made in life. But each choice usually costs them something. Think about your own personal choices. Are you married? Then you are making a commitment to love and honor your spouse and not someone else. Do you have children? Then you’re making a commitment to care and educate them in their lifetime. Are you religious? Did you choose a career? All of these choices cost you something to commit to. Relationships and careers take time and effort to deal with the problems that come up in life.
In fiction or memoir, our protagonists must make choices in their story lives that cost them something in return. It must cost the protagonist to change internally or externally or even deal with a plot problem. Does she get what she’s after? The goal must cost her something, emotionally or physically, to attempt it.
Think about Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help. One of the main protagonists is a young white woman who wants to be a writer, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan. It’s the early 1960’s, and Phelan’s mother wants her to get married and have babies, like Phelan’s friends. There is so much to unpack in this novel. I’m going to choose one tiny piece. Phelan chooses to write a book about the horrible treatment of “colored” maids in the Deep South. This takes much effort and time for Phelan, and she requires assistance to gather the information. But her choice to compose this book costs her the love of a man she had initially wanted a meaningful relationship with. It also costs her acceptance in the neighborhood. In fact, Phelan ends up moving north to be a writer.
So what does it cost Victoria to choose to begin college as a mother of five?
The major cost is time with her family. This affects others. And it hinges on another cost for Victoria. Internally, because she struggles with feelings of inferiority, and works twice as hard just to keep up in college, Victoria can’t seem to relax or take a break. So Victoria believes she’s wasting time and effort that could be spent making life better for her family.
No, she can’t be the Mom she was before attempting college, spending most of her downtime with the children. She needs time to study if she wants to show those children how to be successful. Her children need to mature enough to understand this. So does her husband. And, most importantly, so does Victoria. She must learn to stop worrying about taking too much time away from family because she learns differently and studies constantly.
Please feel free to offer any insight regarding the costs in this college journey. It would be truly appreciated.
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