Friday, June 03, 2011

Be Wary Of What You Honor

It’s graduation season!

Some of you and yours have hit that special day. Others will do so any day. Endings that lead to new beginnings are fully in our thoughts these days. Commencement speeches will honor those who have done well with their achievements and encourage all to continue to achieve, or to change course and start to achieve on new paths.

The valedictorian and salutatorian who have sailed through with flying colors will address the rest of the class. Awards programs show who sported the best grades.

However, in between all of the pomp and circumstance for those who did and whose grades show they did, be wary of bestowing more honor on those who got there easily than on those who struggled much harder to get as far as they did.

Let’s face it: school is far easier for some than for others. Some of us book learn well, sit still well, listen well, learn by lecture well. That’s wonderful. It is.

How many of us, though, don’t? If you are one of those who have struggled through learning by lecture, have trouble sitting, have trouble focusing, have trouble reading (and you know who you are: dyslexia, autism, ADHD, other learning differences, home life struggles, emotional issues…), have trouble feeling like you CAN, get distressed by how easy it is for those around you when you have to put four times the effort to achieve half the result…

This post is for you. CONGRATULATIONS!

You’ve learned more than book knowledge. You’ve learned how to struggle. You’ve learned to overcome, to persist, to stand up for yourself, to try and try again, to not give up on yourself even if it feels like everyone around has given up on you. Did you pass the test? Do you have that diploma in hand?

Then good for you! Your path is just as bright as the A students, the honor cord crowd path. You have just as many options, just as many credentials (they may be different, but there are as many), just as much opportunity.

Simply KNOW you do. Because you do.

How do I know? Yes, I’m part of the honor cord crowd. But a little secret: I spent probably four times as long on my homework to get there. There were many days I could not focus and I had to go do something else until I could, leaving me to finish at midnight so I was tired the next day. Science and math concepts felt so far over my head I couldn’t even touch them with my fingertips. With some help, I struggled through. Maybe I didn’t get better than a C in those classes, but for me, that was success. And I claim that success.

I also struggle with social phobia. No, not shy. Shy is different. I get nervous talking to a friend, even a good friend. Still, when I need to make money, I work. I’ve smiled at customers while cringing inside. Now, although I can work at home for the most part, I go to book signings and force myself to talk and then go home and crash because the social exertion is exhausting. But I do it. Because I can. If I will. I still have bad focus times where I have to go do something besides write. Then I come back to it later. Or I put music on in the background to help my focus. I’ve learned tricks to be productive, to get through issues others don’t understand.

So can you.

Whatever your obstacle, you have it for a reason. The reason: to learn to overcome. That’s a lesson that will help you thrive more than any other lesson on earth.

Overcome. Keep going. Stumble. Fall. Get back up. Keep going. The earth is round, indeed. You won’t fall off. Simply keep getting up and know you can get up and some days will be glorious while others are not so much. Fall. But get back up.

And never mind those “top of the pack” people. Be glad for them. They worked to get there, also. Don’t put them down for being as they are, and don’t allow them to put you down for being as you are.

Stand straight. Don’t be arrogant about it. Be humble (you’ve not done it by yourself; remember that, and be gracious to those who have helped along the way). But don’t look down. Look straight ahead. And keep going.

CONGRATULATIONS!  Now, commence with the next part of your life and choose the path that will make you happy and that will support you. If you are supporting yourself and you enjoy what you do, and you don’t step on others to do it, then you’ve made it. Pat yourself on the back.

And keep going.