Ten years ago, I had started classes at Iona College. It was amazing. I loved everything about it. I had three absolutely amazing years of my life making countless friendships and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I didn’t finish my degree. Everyone kept telling me, that I would probably never go back to school once I left, and for a really long time, it seemed like that was going to be true. I just wasn’t putting in the effort needed and I didn’t have the drive and so I thought those three years of college classes and tests and academics were just going to be a part of my past.
Eventually I decided that I didn’t want to quit or give up. I had promised myself when I left Iona in 2009 that I would finish my college degree for myself. That it was an important goal and something that I refused to sacrifice just because I chose to have a child and move home and change the path I was on.
” You cannot fail unless you quit, so don’t quit. “
Let’s fast forward to today. This is my first day of classes for what I like to call, my very super senior year. In the past 10 years I have learned more about myself and taught myself so much about what it truly means to not give up.
- Don’t give up unless it’s something you want to do. Don’t give up because other people think you are going to, don’t give up because it’s hard, if you are going to give up, make sure your reason is valid and that you won’t regret it.
- It’s never too late to finish what you started. Sure, I started college ten years ago and though many finish in four, I took a different path. When I enrolled at URI in 2012, they put me in a program called “finish what you started.” I thought, yeah, that’s all I’m doing. Finishing what I started so many years ago.
- I am glad it took me so long. This statement is a bit backhanded. Sometimes I am mad at myself for taking so long to finally finish this. But it took me a really long time to truly decide what I wanted to do, what I wanted to major in, and how to get there. Taking the time truly taught me what I wanted to do with my life.
- The journey is different for everyone. Just because I took 10 years, doesn’t mean that my degree will be any less valuable than many of my friends who took four years. The same thing that easily be said that I applaud them for having undergrad and many of them graduate degrees in the time it has taken me to finish my undergrad. Every journey is different and I am very proud of my friends for accomplishing everything they have as well.
- The reality doesn’t always match the dream. My dream would not have been to take 10 years to finish my undergrad and would’ve have been to graduate with my friends after four years and wonder where the world was taking me next. That wasn’t my reality and I am OK with that. Knowing that our dreams are always possible even if the reality of getting there is completely different compared to what we had in mind is one of the most important things I have learned.
- Excuses are easy but they don’t make you feel any better. I have made countless excuses over the years as to why I didn’t get a good grade, why I dropped a class, why I was “taking a break” – I mean the list goes on. But every excuse I made didn’t make me feel any better and most definitely didn’t change where I was. I still had a choice to make – quit or don’t quit.
- Be happy in everything that you accomplish. I am so happy that I am a mother, that I am a wife, that I work hard, and that I am a student. Sometimes I am overwhelmed but I am very happy with my life and where I am in it.
- It’s OK to brag and be proud of yourself. Sometimes, I like to humbly (and maybe not so humbly brag) about my accomplishments. For me, finishing my degree while working and being a mother and a wife and maintaining friendships and family time – I like to think that is impressive. But ultimately I am proud of myself. I am proud that even with all the excuses I have made, I never gave up completely.
The journey through the past 10 years is something I wouldn’t change. For ME, it has worked. It hasn’t been easy, I am sure I have complained, but I am so thankful that even after leaving Iona in 2009, I was still able to enroll in another school to finish my degree. So here I am today, starting my last semesters as an undergraduate student. I am a mix of emotions as I start the homestretch of this journey. I am blown away that I am so close to finally completing what I began. I am ecstatic that in 9 months, I will finally be done. I am excited to see what the future holds. I am lucky for the opportunity to finish this and the amazing support from my family and friends over the years. I am so proud of myself for not quitting and showing my children that you can do anything you set your mind to no matter what.
Failure is only an option if you choose to make it one.