Nita’s College Lesbianage: I’m Gonna Be Alright

College Lesbianage is part of the schooled issue. click for more.

Hello and welcome to another edition of Autostraddle’s College Lesbianage: a glimpse of college life through the wide eyes of six freshly fallen snowflake first-year queers. This month’s update will be given individually! Today Nita has decided that she’s not special after all (even though we disagree). 

I sat on the floor of the women’s bathroom in the School of Education building, on the phone with my mom, crying. It was the last day of my last semester of my first year of college, and I was crying because I’d failed. I wasn’t going to continue in the interpreting degree — the degree I’d specifically chosen my college for, the degree I was so sure I’d get in, the degree I’d planned for my entire senior year of high school and, I admit, the one I bragged about to friends and family, relishing the looks of interest on their faces whenever they asked that inevitable, “So what do you want to major in? Sign Interpreting? Oh, that’s so exciting! What made you want to do that?”

Gone was that interest, and in its place a deep, burning embarrassment and sadness. I’d thought I was good enough to be an interpreter, and here I was being told, flat-out, that I don’t have what it takes.

“You’re lucky you had another major and don’t have to start over,” my advisor said. “Though we do strongly discourage our interpreting majors from having any other major since this one is so intensive. But this is one of those skills you either have or you don’t.” The “you don’t have this” was implied, but I got the point well enough. I felt like Mike Wazowski in Monsters University – something that had hit too close to home when I saw it – the part where he’s told “What you lack cannot be taught.” And now I was going to slink back home, tail between my legs, and quietly change my major to something I actually had the potential for.

That was in May. Two weeks later, I was almost fired from my job for mistakes I didn’t really realize I was making until it was too late. And thus continued what was shaping up to be the shittiest month of my life. I was mad at myself and at the department — how, I thought, could they accurately assess what my skill would be like as an interpreter after four years of training and an internship based on two screening exams when I’d barely had a year of sign language?

I do have the potential to be an interpreter. I know I do, and I believe it — I’d just have to find a way around the program to get my certification. And I’d still need a bachelor’s degree. Theatre, while something I love and deeply admire, didn’t seem a viable career choice for me unless it was in playwriting—I am a decent actor and an okay singer, but I don’t have that spark that true theatre people have.

Writing, though. Writing was something I’d been doing ever since my first piece of Scooby Doo fan fiction when I was seven. It was and is something I love and something I know I’m good at. So last week, I made the decision to finally switch to being a full-time English major with minors in Deaf Studies and Theatre. I am slowly coming to terms with this, though I know it’ll be hard next semester going back and seeing people I know still continue through the interpreting program. This summer has not been what I wanted, and looking back, last semester wasn’t either, but I’m holding out hope that maybe now I’m a step closer to where I’m supposed to be. I want to be an interpreter, but now isn’t the right time; maybe I’m supposed to be a writer, something I’ve always wanted to be since I was a little kid.

So I’m looking ahead and trying to be excited. I have my own room and am sharing a suite with one of my best queer friends. My girlfriend is attending the same college I am — something that’s going to be both an adjustment and an amazing thing for us, because Lord knows I wouldn’t have made it through any of this without her. We celebrated our two-year anniversary on the 15th and spent the weekend at Busch Gardens and Wrightsville Beach.


She’s truly helped me through everything and is an amazing person, and I’m excited for what the future holds for both of us. My job performance has picked back up, and I’m starting to prove myself again. So I don’t know exactly where the future is headed for me or what career I’ll wind up in, but I think, for now, I’m gonna be alright.

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Nita has written 2 articles for us.


  1. You are SO going to be all right. I am so glad you realize that you DO have what it takes to do what you want, you’re just going to have to find an alternate path because there are some obnoxious road blocks standing in your way right now. It’s not permanent.

    I wish I’d realized that when I was in college, when I had something similar happen. I love my life path, but it’s taken me a long ass time to get back to where I started (which I knew was right in the first place, I just lacked confidence).

    And if you go to school near Busch Gardens, you likely went to my Alma Mater and tell you what, there are some high stress, high intensity people up in there.

    • Thank you! :)
      And I attend school in Greensboro, NC–but it’s only about a 3 hour drive to Busch Gardens.

  2. As an Accounting major with a skimpy GPA, i have to tell myself that all the time. Before you know it 3 years will past and all your troubles will be faded memory.When i was 8 my was born deaf , at two he got the cochlear implant so i didn’t learn much past shoes and hungry but i do understand how difficult it is. Goodluck and keep positive thoughts , the only one that can stop you from anything is YOU.

  3. Hey, Nita,
    Context: I’m an ASL interpreter in DC and am working on my master’s in interpretation at Gallaudet. Other context: This is a program that is two years long. It’s taking me four, because during my first year I had a breakdown and was convinced I wasn’t cut out for it and quit school and worked at a coffee shop and then had a bout with serious depression and anxiety, got a little suicidey, got a great shrink and a better outlook and GUESS WHAT. I’m doin’ it, kid.

    I don’t know much about the program in Greensboro, but I do know about the Deaf/ASL/Interpreting world and how mean it can be sometimes. And people who don’t know that world just don’t know. But here’s the thing. If you have enough passion to make you choose a college based on wanting to major in interpretation (that’s actually how I picked the University of Rochester for undergrad, by the way. Because they had an ASL major), you have the fire. And if Greensboro interpretation department thinks you’re not ready, maybe you’re not. But that doesn’t mean you fail, and it doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for it, it just means you might need to go about things a different way.

    If you want to talk about this more directly, let me know.

    I get it, girl. Forrul.

    • I was going to suggest looking into Gallaudet, like sharkweek did.

      Nita: you ARE going to be ok. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough to do something you haven’t even learned how to do yet! You’ll find a way.

  4. What’s meant for you wont pass you buy.

    That’s something trite my mam used to always say at moments like this. The thing is, its only years later when I look at the way so many different paths in my life have twisted and intersected to bring me to where I am right now, I realize she was right.

    It was on a year out from a degree I was struggling through that I emailed the artistic director of a festival I liked and basically said “I want your job. Show me how to do it” That was step one and I’ve never looked back. I’ve spent the last couple of years moving and learning and getting started in theatrical production and curating live art.

    The reason for the year out, the aimlessness in my degree, the time to think that made me send that email and start my life? I was doing English Lit because I didn’t get into Theatre Studies! There is always another route, you just need to keep believing in yourself- that’s the hard part!

  5. “Gone was that interest, and in its place a deep, burning embarrassment and sadness. I’d thought I was good enough to be an interpreter, and here I was being told, flat-out, that I don’t have what it takes.” —> This was my experience exactly. While I excelled at ASL, I was told that wasn’t all that it took to be an interpreter, and I just “didn’t have the stuff for it”.

    Luckily after some soul searching, I found a major that I am in love with, but I was crushed and deflated for a very long time. Don’t let it get you down! Interpreting programs are just downright cruel sometimes, depending on the instructors. Don’t feel like a failure and don’t take it personally – that’s my advice to you!

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