I heard my name, it was uttered loud and clear, yet I still had a moment of hesitation. It had finally arrived- the culminating moment that solidified what seemed to be an endless amount of years of hard work and sacrifice (It was seven years to be exact). I had gotten married and birthed two babies in the time it took to earn my Bachelor’s degree. Funnily enough, most of my peers still couldn’t even do their own laundry. Most people would say of me graduating, “Oh wow! Good for her!” This sort of patronizing comment really peeved me. It was as if I was discounted the moment I decided to become a mother. Why was it that my achievement of graduating was celebrated as if I had just won a Nobel prize? It is because no one had actually expected me to finish.

During college, professors would ask me, “What do you think you can do after you graduate?” or “Are you looking for jobs or graduate schools nearby?” I know it may seem like these are normal or harmless questions, but for me, they were life-changing. Unfortunately, I knew I did not have the same opportunities as other graduates. It was becoming glaringly obvious that I was to be locked in a vortex of mediocrity and obligation for the rest of time. All of my hard work seemed like it had been in vain. Why couldn’t I go to grad school on the other side of the country or accept a job in Europe? It was as if my future was already planned out for me and I quickly began to feel resentful. It wasn’t until after I had graduated and started to consider jobs and that I realized how truly lucky I was.

Nothing about my situation had limited me. In actuality, it had given me a gift. I was allowed the space I needed to clear my mind and realize what I genuinely aspired to do, which was write. Part of me wonders what life would be like now if I hadn’t had children so young or if I had chosen to go the more traditional route. Sure I may have felt more successful, but would I be sincerely happy? Something tells me that if I had to answer that question, I would say no. In the end, I had a realization- society may have taught me that success is measured in money, but my life experiences have taught me otherwise.  

Even though I always knew I would get my degree, it wasn’t something that was easy, because life happened. Moreover, no one can anticipate  all of the hardships that come after receiving the degree. In the end, no one has it easy. There will always be obstacles in the way whether it is children, relationships, income, or circumstances. We all have own our sets of challenges. The important thing to remember is to lead your own life in your own way. Most of all, the next time you hit a bump in the road, stop, pull over, and think. You may just save yourself.

Ashley