It's not a cooincidence that I went to a City College. I laid the groundwork early on in my life. I was a pretty good student in High School but I just did the minimum. I got accepted to a university at 17, and proceeded to party my way into academic probation. I figured what was needed was to take a year off. I did so. A year later, I returned to continue exactly what had originally got me in trouble with my grades. Back then, I saw the world as my oyster (to coin a cliche); I used it. It was all about living fast, and taking in what pleasures I could for the moment.
When I was asked to leave university, I got a wake up call. I had to get a job, find and apartment, and mom and dad weren't footing the bill. Instead of a string of dates, I got serious with one very special woman. I began to gain respect for the every-man in society; the people who work day in and day out in little nothing jobs just to pay the rent and keep their refrigerators relatively full. I wasn't anything special any more. I was just another guy who had failed. Yet, in this failure came a realization. It wasn't a sudden realization nor a daunting one, but by and by, I came to acknowledge that what is more important than instant gratification is the journey towards one's goals. It is in the journey that we truly learn.
I continued my journey, and unlike my brief stint in college, I didn't have much goof around time. So, twenty years later, when I had the chance to return to school and get my Associate's Degree, I jumped at it. Sure, it wasn't a fancy BA from a major university, but it was one that I earned, for real this time.
When I walked across that stage on graduation day, I felt ten feet tall. You couldn't wipe that smile off my face for trying. I was pushing forty years old, but I felt like a kid again. Many people might have given up on that little two-year degree. Others would say it wasn't even worth it, but for me, it proved something to myself. You see, once you start down that road of not getting up after you've fallen, it becomes easier and easier to slack off. First, it's dropping out of college, then it's getting lazy about exercise, then maybe it's not working on relationships enough. Pretty soon, that person that didn't need to study in high school finds it hard even to concentrate on reading a chapter of a book at night. Our little habits that we pick up because we tell ourselves, "Well, it doesn't matter." do add up. When we become lazy, it is usually our choice to be so.
It's not like we all have to become great scholars or heroes or legacies. It's not about success or all out achievement. The important thing to realize here, is overcoming adversity in the face of failure or circumstance. If we fall, why not accept that we did, admit it, get back up, dust ourselves off, and try again. Sometimes, we find new directions, but they are a step forward. We don't have to live in the past, nor live up to any grandiose standards. Be yourself, be kind to yourself, go forward by degrees, at whatever pace suits you. Believe and have faith; faith in yourself, faith in the process.
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