Saturday, December 27, 2008
A Degree Doesn't Always Mean Success
When I did the "Getting to Know You" Christmas Edition, one of the questions asked about the worst gift I'd ever received. My answer was to say that the gift was actually something I'd wanted. It was a book called "An Incomplete Education" but a comment from my father turned the book into garbage. Referencing my on again, off again attendance of college, he remarked that I already had one of these (an incomplete education) and didn't know what I wanted with another. That comment has stuck with me for years. It really hurt me and pinpointed something which has always been a bit of a sore spot.
I was speaking to Susan about this during our last session and as soon as I told her what he said, she remarked sarcastically "God, he's not projecting much, is he???" *Doink* If that didn't smack me upside the head. Crying out loud. I've been carrying that statement around for 15 years and, all along, it was about my father's own insecurity!! He never finished college and he was ashamed of that. And he put it on me. And I let him because I didn't even see it until Susan pointed it out.
Probing a little further on the subject, Susan asked me why my college experience turned out the way it did. I was actually a great student. With a few exceptions, I had high marks. I took double Math classes every year, always getting A's. In my Junior & Senior year, I was in the National Honor Society. I got a perfect score on my Math SAT and a near perfect score on the English portion. I had been accepted to some good colleges.~
It was the middle of my Senior year when my brother was floundering and failing out of a community college. He was more interested in hanging out and dealing drugs instead of going to classes. At this point, and I reiterate middle of my Senior year, my father informed me that due to my brother's lack of seriousness about college, my father had decided that I would get more out of my education by paying for it on my own. No offers for a loan or for help. Just period. End of story. You're on your own, kid.
Instead of going off to school, as I'd hoped, I took a full time job and went to a local college part time. In the end, the job and the money won out. And my father won out. I didn't see this for what it was until I had this talk with Susan. My father's decision had absolutely nothing to do with my brother. That was just a convenient excuse but he would have found one regardless. He saw me excelling. And he couldn't let me show him up. He couldn't contribute to helping his daughter be more successful than he. Most parents want more for their children than they had for themselves but not my father. It terrified him to think that I might accomplish something that he had not and it would further spotlight his inadequacy in his own mind. So he did his best to put an end to that possibility and hold me back.~
In a way, it worked because I never did finish college. The thing is though, degree or not, I am so much more than my father could ever be. Professionally, my father is quite accomplished. Well, so am I. Not to the same extent that he is but I'm okay with that. Because career is not my only success in life and that is more than I can say for him. I've worked harder than any college course would require in order to be the person I am. And I'm more proud of that that I would ever be of a degree. I'm a successful career woman with a fantastic industry reputation. But I'm also a good, caring, compassionate person. I'm determined to constantly grow on a personal level. I'm a good Mom who is very conscientous of the lessons I teach my daughter and the influence I have on her. I DO want more for her than I had. She has a happy home and a supportive parent. I want to help her identify and realize her own dreams and never hold her back.