RISE: In the Words of the Uneducated


“It hurt, going from being a straight A student, to failing.”

Growing up, I was rebellious. Granted, I had valid reasons for my rebellion. Over a period of five years, I experienced more than any one person should have to experience in a lifetime. My parents divorced and, in that time, gone on to new relationships. My world had been torn apart by alcoholism, addiction and heartbreak.

Years of moving around had left me hopelessly behind in school. It hurt, going from being a straight A student, to failing. The drugs I had turned to for coping were not helping the situation either and most days when I did show up for class, I was lost to a drug-induced stupor. (I wonder how my teacher didn’t see it? Or maybe they didn’t care?)

I had to get out of my house. My mother’s boyfriend was a tyrant and I could not take it any more. When I spoke to school counsellors, they made it out that it was my issue with him; it couldn’t be that bad. They were wrong. I left home. I stayed with friends, lived in my cousin’s empty house, sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I lived in a car for a time. I was 15 years old when this was happening. I did not go to the government. I was terrified of foster care. I had heard too many nightmares from friends at the hands of foster parents and group homes. I tried to go back to school. I tried the out school programs, but taking buses in the dark, cold nights of winter ended that. I was living in the worst part of town and I had too many close calls with perverts.

I answered an ad to be a shampoo girl one day and began an apprenticeship for hairdressing. My dreams of university, college–of normal–were gone. I felt validated, because I was learning a trade and I accepted my place in life. Uneducated, unrefined, uncultured.

My lack of education, was something I hid. I tried to watch people and learn social skills. I’d watch the way people ate to adapt their table manners. I watched the way people spoke, so I could copy them and not come out sounding like an uneducated bumpkin. When I found myself stepping into a new social situation, like a nice dinner or an evening at the theatre, I asked the women patrons at the hair salon how I should dress and how I should act. Looking back, they were so lovely. They helped me fumble my way into society.

As I grew older I became a sponge to my environment, desperately wanting to rise above my social status. I hated that uneducated poor girl from the wrong side of town. I wanted to bury and squash her.

A family took me in, I had been dating their son and after we broke up, the mom came and got me. She knew how bad things were at home. I had gone back after having no couch to sleep on, but after my mother’s boyfriend beat up my sister, I was done. I had to leave. I recovered in that home. They gave me love and acceptance. They encouraged me and stood by. I gave them plenty of reasons to kick me out over the years, but they never did. They loved me and I know our paths crossing was the work of God.

Today, when I find myself at a table of educated degrees, I still feel myself shrinking back. I don’t want to say a thing, because I worry “she” will show up. That girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The girl who should not have made it out. The girl who knows nothing.

When people hear about my past and my new start to life, I am often asked how I rose above it? I don’t have an easy answer to that. I hated her. That poor, uneducated, messed up girl. I hated feeling helpless and hungry, growing up between welfare checks. I hated being alone in that house sleeping on a floor with just a mattress that wasn’t even mine. I hated being invisible.

Today I am 38 years old. Still uneducated, but I don’t hide that anymore. Somewhere along the way, God fixed that. Instead of looking back at myself, feeling repulsed and ashamed, I embrace her. She made me who I am today and I am learning to love her.

When I felt called to write, it was one of scariest things God could have asked me to do. I battle with myself every time I sit at my keyboard. What can I possibly say to an educated reader? But then my heart pours out.

I knew long ago, I wanted to share my stories. It is a dream planted by God and it won’t go away. I feel like I am at the beginning of this journey and only God knows the end. So I put myself out there. I fight the insecurity and doubt, each time my finger hovers over the publish button. I pray that I have not missed words, messed up grammar, confused the tense in my article. I pray that people will not see my lack of education, but hear my heart. I know time will correct all those technical things I battle with. I know experience will shape my voice and the writer that is buried down there, will rise up.

This is the life I dreamed about.


Dear SheLoves friends:

  • What story have you had to rise above?
  • What is the dream in your heart that seems impossible still?


Daniela Schwartz
I am a happily married mother of two gorgeous boys ages 2 & 10. I write, create and decorate. I am passionate about all three. I also love naps and staying in my pyjama's all day. I haven't figured out if this is due to laziness or depression, possibly both. I think Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened. I have a twin sister so if you happen to run into me and I ignore you or seem rude, it is probably her. You can tell if it's me because I look a little younger and am slightly prettier (wink). I blog about life at danielaschwartz.com
Daniela Schwartz

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  1. Thank you for encouraging me, another ‘uneducated’ not to be held back by that reality, but to press in to the call of God, which I’m trying to make myself believe will be more equipping in itself than all the years of schooling, and letters that I *don’t* have behind my name.

    • Jessica, I was revisiting this post to grab a link and saw your comment. I am sorry I never replied to it! I applaud you for moving forward, and yes I continually learn it that God will equip us for our calling. I hope you are fiercely walking this out. xoxo

  2. Such a mix of emotions reading about our past. I’m grateful we have both risen above it and that you have such an amazing ability to put voice to it. Love you sis. Xoxo

  3. Daniela, this is beautiful and touching! You are such a light to those around you (who know and love you) and those who meet you. Like Kelley said, keep revealing your heart..it’s a good thing :). Thank you.

    • Thank you Heather. I appreciate your encouragement and the feedback you give. You are such a cheerleader, we need those.

  4. Helen Burns helenburns says:

    Oh my… how am I supposed to read this without using a whole box of tissues? You know how much I love you, respect you, honour you and learn from you right? You continually inspire me and encourage me as you share your story and your life. I am honoured to know you and do life with you! I love you always and forever.

    Helen xoxoxoxo

  5. I have graduate education and interact daily with people who also have higher education. Most of them can’t hold a candle to the authenticity and depth of character evident in your writing. We are all very lucky that you are brave enough to find your voice and to share it. Keep going.

  6. I love it when the cork comes off and the champagne comes bursting out! When those wonderful bubbles come out and pour out over everyone….thanks for taking the cork out.

    You are beautiful, talented, real, stubborn, brave and did I say beautiful?… woman! I love you and always thankful that your are willing to share your life with me.

  7. So much education higher and lower is available for free it pains me to read stories like this one. Jesus did not have advanced degrees He was Spirit taught and led. Paul had been extensively taught but he said he wanted to know and come to preach nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    Our pasts can’t define us when we have been gifted and called by Father God. Blessings to those this message can liberate. Utilize the internet and public libraries learn any and everything you want. Do not be intimidated by what you think you have missed.

    • T, thank you for encouragement. It’s true, if God calls us, the only thing that can stand in the way is ourselves. I have indeed been hitting the internet and books. So thankful for the amount of knowledge so readily available for those that are looking.

  8. Daniela – you are a gif.t What a beautiful essay. Well done, Eshey Chayil! bless you.

  9. Michelle says:

    So authentic and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story!

  10. Oh, I love reading your words because I feel your heartbeat in each one. I’m so glad you are writing and telling your story and embracing all of who you are. Keep writing, keep revealing your heart to us so we can learn from you and with you.

    • Thank you dear Kelley (I am about to brew a pot of Burundi coffee). I am glad you feel my heartbeat, it is my prayer. xo

  11. idelette says:

    This one needed very little editing–just sayin’! Thank you for being brave and speaking your truth. You make me brave and inspire me when you continue to leap like this. Love, from your ESL Editor. 😉

  12. Really well written — you have a beautiful writing voice.

    I have a masters in journalism from a top school (which goes unused as I do not make a living as a journalist) and I think that universities crush good writing by forcing people to be formulaic. Good writing starts with a good message, authentically delivered from the heart and from a place of truth.

    Like you, I struggle with coming from the wrong side of the tracks with some sense of shame that I don’t deserve. God is good to us.

    • Thank you PQ, it is always appreciated by myself to get feedback from degrees. It’s too bad you don’t use your journalism degree, what an amazing thing to have! Thank you for you comment, I treasure feedback.

  13. Oh hunny, wow! I love you and Trinity even more than I thought I possibly could. You girls are my heroes. Tight hugs with snotty tears flowing down your back. Wow. Thank you for being brave and giving me permission to do the same.

  14. Beautiful.

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