Graduation and Beyond (I did it!)

10 years after graduating high school, I’m finally graduating from undergrad.

For the longest time I thought I just wouldn’t get my degree. Life was working out okay, and it seemed like every time I tried to go back to school everything else just fell apart and I wasn’t quite able to get with the program and just finish school. Part of that is because each time I enrolled in school I felt like I wasn’t doing it for myself. It was always for someone else, and I was always just thinking about a degree that would be practical and get me a job right out of school – like a degree in Education. Each time was wrong in its own way, and even though I made mistakes through it all, I don’t regret the path I ended up on.

College is such an interesting thing. I think it’s important everyone has access to higher education, but I don’t think it’s as important to complete a degree as society makes it out to be. There are so many different career paths that can be taken, and so much is based more on experience than a degree. The amount of guilt I have felt, and I know I’m not alone, because I dropped out of school multiple times and never actually graduated is something I still struggle with even though I am finally doing it.

I know what it feels like to have an employer tell me I’m not qualified enough because I don’t have a degree, or the way it feels when you get *that look* because you attended community college and got your associate degree, but didn’t make it further.

For me, I know that at some point I’d like to work in higher education. I want to be a professor and give students the support some of my best professors have given me and countless others. I love learning and I want to continue learning for the rest of my life. The first thing I needed to do was get back to school and get my degree. This is much more than just getting a better job for myself. I have struggled with anxiety, depression, burnout, and major imposter syndrome. This is personal. After ruining my GPA over the course of multiple failed stints in school, I’ve made it to a point where I could actually put it on a resume and not cringe.

I don’t give myself credit a lot because I know, in most situations, I could have done better, but this one I’m patting myself on the back and I’m going to pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

But just because I’m crossing this personal milestone, it doesn’t mean it’s someone else’s. Support each other and understand that someone can be successful without a degree. Because what makes someone successful is their decision and their personal feats and goals accomplished. You never know, just getting out of bed or drinking enough water could be success. I know some days it is for me.

For what’s beyond May 15, I have no idea. I’m working on getting a job in entirely new field in this pandemic era. Job possibilities look dismal in some ways, but there’s always going to be something. After a semester of searching for a job and having 80 applications go with no response, I’ve decided to stop driving myself into the ground with the stress of applying for jobs in every free waking moment I have.

It’s time to breath and celebrate something I’ve worked my ass off for.

And always remember, it does not matter whether or not you have a degree. Earned experience and marketing yourself well can get you further than a degree in most cases.

You are valid and worthy of so much in this world.

Signing off for now,

— Tory

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