Thursday, April 3, 2014

On becoming my own personal cheerleader...

For reasons unknown the idea that I need to become my own personal cheerleader is stuck in my head today.

God knows, I am not naturally inclined to "toot my own horn" or even acknowledge my own accomplishments. As a matter of fact, I tend to do quite the opposite and down play what I have done. I don't take compliments well. I am my own worst critic.

But, today I started to wonder why I can't take just a moment and be proud of myself. I know it's possible to be proud of an accomplishment without sounding conceited. I have many family members and friends who have that confidence in themselves and I never feel that they are bragging or trying to belittle anyone else by doing so.

So, why not try to be proud of myself once and a while? What's wrong with that?

So today, for just a minute I am going to focus on one thing I have done that I am very proud of. That thing is this:

Yes, that is my high school diploma. What's the big deal you might ask? Pretty much everyone goes to school and gets one, it's not that hard.

But for me this was a hard won accomplishment. You might notice that the diploma is dated 2008. Yep, 2008. Yes, I was 39 years old when I earned it. 21 years from the time I should have graduated with my senior class.

Why did it take me so long? I don't have a great answer. I didn't technically "drop out" of high school. I went all 4 years. I just didn't go to every class, all the time. So I didn't earn the credits I needed to walk the stage with my peers.

High school was a tough time in my life. I had no clue at the time but, this was when the first symptoms of my Bipolar disorder began to manifest. My self esteem was in the dumps. I was not a happy person. Because of this school was not a priority. I railed against the system. Complained that it was all worthless information that I would never really use. So if I hated a class or a teacher, I just didn't attend. My report cards from high school are a portrait of inconsistency. If you look at the grades and attendance you will see I got A's & B's in the classes I enjoyed (and that even included more then just "fun" classes- I aced History courses every year for example!). Attendance reflects the same thing, if I liked a class I attended regularly. If not, well... the attendance is just sad!!

For years after high school I didn't let the fact that I failed to graduate bother me. It just didn't think it mattered and I didn't think it made a huge impact on my life.

Then one day - something changed.

Maybe it was the fact that my kids were in High School and Middle School at that time. That they were both working towards the goal of graduating. That I felt like a hypocrite when I lectured them about their grades and stressed to them how important it was to get through school.

Suddenly,the fact that I did not have a high school diploma started to weigh on my heart and mind. I felt incomplete. So, I resolved to do something about it. And I started looking into programs that would help me reach that goal.

I could have gone the GED route. I could have studied, taken the tests and finished that way but, for me... it just didn't feel right. While earning your GED is a big accomplishment, I needed more. I wanted the diploma.

So, I found a program that would let me do just that. The courses I had finished in High School were considered but, I had a lot to make up and an incredible amount of work to do.

In some ways it was easier. Easier in the sense that I was motivated to do it. I was resolved to make it through. But, in many ways it was much harder. I mean come on- it had been 20 years since I had opened a school book. Math, English, Essays. Some days I didn't think I would make it. Some days I wanted to just throw up my hands and say forget it. I don't need it. But, I didn't. My family knew I was working towards this goal. I wanted to make them proud AND I wanted to make myself proud. I wanted this.

And so I did it. It took over a years worth of hard work. But, I DID IT! The day my diploma arrived in the mail was one of the proudest days in my life because, I had finally accomplished my goal.

Yes, it would have been easier to just go to class as a teenager, do my work and finish like everyone else. But, maybe I needed to do it this way. I am who I am today because of the choices I made all those years ago. And at least for this moment I am proud of that person. I am cheering that accomplishment and celebrating who I am. Without reservation.

Today, I am my own personal cheerleader!!


Candra Creason said...

You are awesome Wendi!

Katherine Ronachert said...

AWESOME!!! And It is okay to say nice things about yourself :) Be proud and confident. Love you!