At times I tend to think I’m older than I actually am, allowing myself to drown in the woes of past mistakes and watching all my counterparts swiftly pass me by. This gets to be a burden and ultimately an obstacle that I’ve created on my own, because while I’m preoccupied with playing the victim, time just keeps progressing and I’m on the sidelines wondering where it drifted to. I’m sure other students can relate.
When I mentally calculate graduation time, I include comparisons to the people who were freshmen in high school when I was a senior that will probably be graduating with me or to younger students who have already finished their college career before me. Worst yet, I’ll think of all my little cousins who will be in college the same time as me. As ridiculous as it sounds, the thought of me being so much older than them depressed me and, for a while, stopped me from even trying.
Then, I take a look at individuals who have decided to continue their college education at a much older age than I. I admire the strength of these people, because despite the constant reminder of age by often being the oldest person in class, they remember what must be done. Whether it’s a personal goal they never accomplished or they want to improve the quality of their life on some scale, they remember that it’s not always about other people; it’s about being selfish enough to follow what it takes to improve and achieve higher learning.
School has always only been somewhat important to me, but I’ve always been uncertain about whether or not I wanted to continue. Maybe a small part of me was still convinced that I wasn’t designed for college, which I no longer believe that is true for anyone. You can do whatever you put your mind to and any human brain is capable of comprehending college level courses.
Sometimes I would sit in class and doodle or daydream, bored out of my mind. Other times I lacked focus in my studies. Sometimes in a lecture I would sit and daydream about a million other things I’d rather be doing. But doesn’t that happen to everyone? It’s all a matter of sticking it out and never, ever giving up. Cliche to mention, but it’s true; nothing worth having is easy to obtain.
Do I think one can obtain success without a degree? Absolutely. However, that’s not the road I want to take. I think I owe it to myself, and those who have believed and invested in me, to finish what I started.
There is still a level of discipline that comes with classroom learning. Resources are abundant all over this earth, but there is more value in perspectives gained from professors and peers alike. In addition to that, the collegiate experience is not restricted to a classroom environment; it goes way beyond that. It’s about challenge, networking, creating and sustaining opportunity, and the list goes on.
One of my favorite quotes, by Marianne Williamson, perfectly summarizes the point:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Ultimately, greatness is a choice. I now realize that it’s never too late to fulfill whatever goals you set out to achieve. Not only is it unhealthy to beat yourself up over things that can’t be undone, but it’s also just as bad to compare your journey to someone else’s.
Every breath is a brand new opportunity to rise above self inflicted limitations and live out your dreams at your own pace.
This post was written by Chymere A. Hayes. Hayes is a writer and contributor to HBCU Buzz.