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.


Enola said...

Your last paragraph says it all. You ARE all those things. It isn't too long ago that you wouldn't have been able to see that.

I'm glad Susan connected the dots. I too, had the financial rug pulled out from under me during my last year of high school. I will be paying for my education for the next 22 years. I'm not successful because of my education or degree. I'm successful because I found something I love to do and am passionate about. That's the real key. Whether it is working at McDonalds or being a doctor, the key is finding happiness in what you do. I'm glad that you have found it.

jumpinginpuddles said...

its amazing how one good thing can be turned into something rotten because the person saying it has had control over our life and we have believed their lies. I hope the book has new meaning for you now.
have a awesome new year, we have a year in review sitting on our blog if you want to read it :)

Rebecca said...

Fantastic post, and I agree with Enola, the last paragraph does say it all. :)

While I hate to think about the way my parents projected things onto me, I LOVE to hear that someone has seen through the charade. Your post was on the mark, and I think it's great that you are in such a good place and are able to now see your father's comments for what they are. The comments of a jealous, insecure person.
*Stong and determined*

Rebecca said...

That last part would have come out SO much better if I was used to this new keyboard. I meant - Strong and determined, not stong and determined. The perfectionist part of me that still exists, needed to clarify.

Rising Rainbow said...

Strange, I have never really thought about my mother projecting her stuff on me other than hating me because I looked like her. Suddenly I see her lack of support for me and college too. Thanks for the insight!

Wishing You a Happy New Year!

Angel said...

Great post, Kim! And you are so right--it wasn't about you, as well as he should have wanted more for you but didn't. It was yet another lack on his part.

Mine didn't want more for me, either. No financial support, and I knew they were just waiting for me to fail. They probably hate that I did it without them. My younger sibling got a free ride from them. I can't imagine. They aren't smarter than I am, they just got help. But they sold their soul for it.

April_optimist said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I'm so glad you can see now what your father did and why. You ARE a wonderful, remarkable person.