In 1998, I was working at a company like a UPS. This is where I met my husband. After we dated for a while, he convinced me to go back to school. I had been thinking about it for years, 14 years to be exact. Let me explain.
I graduated high school in 1984. During high school, my grades were average but nowhere near good enough to get into the colleges that all my friends were going to. I really had no clue what I wanted to do or study or more importantly, what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, community college it was! Or wasn’t….
The week before I was supposed to start, I told my mom I didn’t want to go. She nearly killed me, and my decision nearly killed her. I know she was disappointed and to be honest, I held on to that feeling since then. I remember telling her that I wanted to get a job and I promised her (on a note attached to three roses) that one day I would go to college. Ugh. I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on her face, but I honestly had no clue that it was so important.
Back to 1998, when I went back to college, I went to the same community college I had planned on going to originally. I decided to take one course and see how it goes from there. I thought about what I wanted to do and even 14 years later, I still had no idea. I enrolled in a Hospitality Management course. Why? Because I’ve always enjoyed the travel industry and at the time, I had a part time job as a travel agent. I thought this would be a perfect fit. At least I thought it would be. I thoroughly enjoyed it and did very well, I got an “A.” The next semester, I enrolled in another course. As the years went by, and I mean years, I continued to work towards my two-year associate degree, completing it 12 years later. Yes, you read that right. It took me 12 long years to graduate! During that time, I had a few career changes and major life events that really contributed to my early career as a professional college student. And I say early career because, not only did it take me 12 years to finish my associates; it took me another 6 years to finish my bachelor’s degree. If I had taken any longer, I may have been graduating college with my boys.
On May 20, 2010, I finally graduated with my associate degree in Liberal Arts. I was surrounded by my family and friends. The most important thing about that day was having my mom there with me. She was so happy and so proud. I felt as though I redeemed myself somewhat and I had hopefully made up for my last-minute change in plans back in 1984. We all went to dinner after and it was one of the best days of my life. I felt good about my accomplishment and proud to be the first in our family to be a college graduate.
In 2011, I was attending my local university when I became pregnant with the twins. It was a challenge to say the least, but I finished my two classes by the end of my first trimester. I was exhausted. I knew at that point, I had to stop and I wasn’t sure when I was going to be able to return. It wasn’t until February 2014 that I went back taking two courses at a time online. Everyone told me that it would be too much for me to handle, as my mom had just passed away two months earlier and Michael was diagnosed with autism. I knew it would be difficult, but I was determined to finish my degree.
In October 2016, I completed my degree and received my bachelor’s degree in English. Once again, we celebrated. My husband hosted a small dinner party at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Although, my mom wasn’t physically there, I know she was smiling down from above. More importantly, I had finally finished my degree and to have my boys there watching, meant everything to me.
On the evening I graduated, I wrote this in my journal:
I did it. I finally graduated. I know you are watching. I hope that this finally makes up for my screw up so many years ago. It feels good and I’m so happy I finally accomplished my dream of becoming a college graduate. Thank you for always believing in me. I miss you. I love you. Sweet dreams.
What about you? Was there something you’ve been putting off that you finally achieved? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.