Tuesday, August 23, 2016

To those of us who aren't graduating on time:

I work retail, so I've known for weeks what today was. The first day of school.
I can't count how many "first day of school" photos I saw from family and friends.
But what hit me hardest was all of the "last first day of school" photos and posts from people I graduated with. This should be my senior year. I should be walking the stage (again) in May with my bachelor's degree.
But I'm not.
I took my first semester at a four- year school very seriously. I made all A's. I took high school very seriously, too.
I was on student council, was editor-in-chief of my school paper, second in command for the literary magazine, worked on the yearbook...the whole nine yards. I was doing it in high school, made great SAT scores, all of that. Destined for greatness and all of that good stuff.
Except I wasn't. I applied for only one college on the day applications were due, and that was by force of my parents. I just didn't want to do it. Was I just being lazy? Yeah, probably. Did I genuinely not want to go? No. I didn't.
But I did. And I did well my first semester. I rushed a sorority, my "Big" hooked me up with a great guy, and things were going great. Until they weren't.
I hated being in school, things didn't work out with the guy, my Big graduated and I didn't enjoy my sorority and dropped it, and shortly after I checked out of school entirely. But yet I still enrolled.
I took classes that I didn't attend. I woke up late, wasn't involved, and I just felt like school wasn't for me. I made A's on every assignment but my absences spoke louder. I started flunking classes because I simply did not attend them.

After failing classes from lack of attendance, I decided school wasn't my "thing." Ha.
I was working at a job where my boss told our customers, "If she just fails, she can work here full-time!" How degrading, I always thought. But how true.
I left that job and went back to the job I loved. But I did not go back to school. I took a semester off and worked my butt off full-time. I loved every second of it.
But I also hated walking into the breakroom and seeing my employees with notebooks full of notes studying because of their upcoming tests. I felt this pang of regret every time I saw them working toward a degree, and me not doing a darn thing.

"You'll be taken off of our insurance if you don't enroll in school full-time," my mom would call and tell me almost every other day. I love my mother more than life itself, but I swear those words turned me into the devil. I would tell her constantly that I didn't care- no more insurance for me!
But I did care. A lot.

So I decided to enroll in my community college. The school my little sister enrolled in over a year ago and has done well in. Embarrassing, I thought.
I jumped through hoops and spent days in their no-air-conditioning-in-Texas-summer offices trying to get in these classes. I said countless times that I gave up- enrolling in school took to much effort and I would rather spend that time at work, earning money.

But I did it anyways. And now I am enrolled in classes, and I am going to continue to work full-time.
I want to punch myself for slacking off so much and sleeping through classes I could have easily passed, but failed because I was lazy and not self-motivated.
I am jealous of my friends who will graduate this year.

But more than that? I am proud of myself for going back. I am proud of myself for trying. School is not for everyone and I firmly believe that. But I am so proud of everyone who sticks to it and goes through complete bullshit in their lives and still comes out working hard.

Whether you are graduating on time, don't plan to graduate at all, or are working your butt off to just get it done like me...I commend you. You do you.
It's ok if you don't walk the stage at the same time as the people you walked the stage with in high school. That's hard for me to recognize.
Maybe I will walk the stage with my little sister, who is years younger than me, but I will walk the stage.

Congratulations to us all.

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