I never looked at this photo and said, " wow, what an accomplishment. "
I learned a lot about myself during these years ... my weaknesses came to light ... I wasn't as strong as I thought I was in the least bit in any of the areas I needed to be.
My last semester was probably the toughest for me, yet it was the semester with the least amount of credit hours and work I was ever assigned. I think I reached a point to where I had done all this work the last three and a half years and I realized it didn't seem like any of it was worth it. There were a number of questions and I just didn't have the answers for any of them.
Through it all and getting to that very moment above, I learned how to cope and get by ... with the help of a few friends, creating music, tons of writing, freestyle/poetry sessions, and hundreds of prayer letters I had written and stashed in a pillow case ... I managed to get through.
In the end, personal growth ... yes, that was evident - progress was being made, albeit rather slowly in my eyes - especially in a career sense ... watching my peers and looking at my surroundings ... I wondered what would/could be different for me ... how would/could I make my mark of success.
I struggled with that heavily for the next few years of my life ...
Until I realized, I can only continue to push myself to become a better person ... jobs come and go, money comes and goes, people come and go ... but beyond all of that, what am I doing to better myself? What am I doing to help others? What am I doing to put myself in a better situation? Am I really putting forth a complete effort?
No matter how many doors I knocked on that never opened or how many times I received an email from my bank saying 'account balance low' ... I learned to be my own biggest crutch ... that even if certain aspects in my life weren't changing for the better, I would continue to develop and improve in other areas.
Truthfully, I think I may be losing some of you in this post ... every thought on this blog from me is in raw form ... but hopefully these points will come together to form a complete message.
My 'graduation' served as vital piece of my internal growth ... I just kept trying to push through ... to get to that next platform, one step closer to being someone I was proud of. It was less about a receiving a piece of paper and more about me overcoming by inhibitions - no longer allowing my faults to hinder me served as my true accomplishment. Since I had to solve a number of problems on my own during that time and afterwards, I think it set the ground work for allowing me to so easily influence and encourage others using my words alone ... because I knew what it felt like to be in a number of situations and not have it all figured out.
My message: I'm not perfect. I never was. I struggled. I still struggle. I didn't give up on myself. I improved. I am still improving. I am creating and continuously developing my niche. With each day, week, month, and year that pass ... I do better, I become better, and try to inspire others along the way to do the same.
Compete against yourself - you will always be your worst enemy.
Excel through your character, continue to mentally and internally graduate.