17. Proud of me

Prompt: Something I’m proud of.

My boy.

My weight-loss.

What I’ve achieved in my career.

The fact that I’m still standing, smiling, and succeeding after all the crap life has thrown at me the past two years.

But most of all, I’m proud of this:

Finishing my degree was a small step in my life, but it’s something that is all mine. I did it. I went to the classes, I studied, I wrote the papers, I passed the tests. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t any luck involved. My success didn’t depend on being in the right place at the right time, it didn’t depend on any one else giving me a chance. It was all on me.

It’s cheesy, but years ago I was watching a made-for-TV movie about a family who testified against their former mob friends. When they entered the witness relocation program, they had to take low-wage, ditch-digging type jobs because they didn’t have an education. The feds wouldn’t falsify degrees for them because that could be checked with schools. They went from having everything to having nothing and no money. If they’d had an education or any type of ‘real’ work experience, the feds could have set them up with jobs.

It was kind of a lame movie, but I’ll never forget it. What I learned in college — the classes and the life experiences — is mine, and no one can ever take it away from me. It’s my past and it has made me who I am today.

Not everyone chooses to go on to college. Higher education is an extremely personal decision. For my friends who went on to serve in the military, that education and those experiences are just as irreplaceable and just as valuable. The same goes for going right into the workforce or starting families. We each chose our own path and we should always be proud of what we’ve accomplished. Always.

I’m proud of earning that degree, all by myself.

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