I graduated from college! and I still can’t believe it! In my last blog post from 12 weeks ago, I was buckling up to finish strong in my final weeks of college and here I am now…its been a month since I’ve received my bachelors degree., oh how quickly these last 12 weeks have flown by!
….graduating from college was certainly one of the biggest milestone achievements in my life and certainly one of the most fulfilling ones. It was rather bittersweet as I said goodbye and parted ways with many great human beings that I have met over the course of this 5 year journey. I am a first generation college graduate in my family and holy shit the journey that it took for me to attain this degree was quite rigorous and down right hard work.
Quite simply, my insecure old self never thought I would be able to graduate college or see myself as someone who can actually be educated. Seriously guys, that was my perception of myself and I usually put myself down with self defeating thoughts. A lot of this self defeating thoughts greatly affects some of my day to day behavior (insecurities, fears, unconfidence). It was all stemmed from the social environment that I grew up in and was influenced by as a child.
In Social Work, we call this Person-in-Environment theory, in which theorizes that a person(s) social environment to include his/her social status, and ethnic background greatly contributes to how an individual behaves and the barriers, discrimination, and injustices that he/she will more than likely experience in life.
In my case, my “Person-in-Environment” was confounded on the beliefs that I was not good enough, simply because my mother had left us at the age of 10, and having come from a broken family left with little to no means, my automatic thoughts were simply that of which sets low expectations for myself. This state of hopelessness, derived simply from constant experiences of having gone through repetitive cycles of failures and being let down as a kid, perpetuated my mindset to be filled with no hope.
When my mother had left us, my father had to work seven days a week just to make ends meet and put food on the table. As a kid, I remember there were many times where I would go with my father to help him on his side jobs on the weekends fixing homes and structures and whatever it is he could earn some living out of. In one particular experience, when I was 12 years old, my older brother and I were helping my dad complete a home renovation for a wealthy family, the Chinese contractor (my dads boss) suddenly steps in the home and directly gets mad at my dad saying that we need to move faster because we are behind schedule. During this time, my dads divorce was just finalized and I could only imagine what was going through his mind.
Going back to angry Chinese contractor , he continuously emphasized to my dads face saying ” Do you want money Wilson? this is Money $Money $ Money” he said this while signing with his fingers the money sign. At that instant, I wanted to smack the hell out of that Chinese guy, but that would mean all our hard work would go for nothing, and so I didn’t and resumed putting tiles on the floor.
As I entered middle school and well into high school, I continued to help my father with his side jobs on the weekends. I remember he would give my siblings and I, $1 to $2 on school days for our daily expenses. It was all that my father could provide at the time, and to us, it was more than enough and allowed us to seriously learn how to do some budgeting in middle school and junior high. I remember seeing some of my classmates bring their latest gadgets to school (PSP’s) and show it off, and here I was thinking, “man that would be awesome to have”. But deep down inside, I knew my dad wouldn’t be able to afford it, outwardly it was okay, but deep deep down inside, I had so many questions of why can’t I just have a normal family just like those other kids.
Life was rather tough earlier on as a child, my childhood experiences treamedously shaped the way I thinked, for example, my insecurities stemmed from seeing other kids have everything (i.e. complete family & all the more) while I didn’t. Another was my thinking of being “not meant for anything more in life” is directly stemmed from constantly working for other people with my dad, instead of just being a kid and doing what kids normally do, and not have to worry about the cares of life.
These insecurities and self defeating thoughts carried well into my young adult years., but it wasn’t until life somehow took me to Social Work (of all things) that I learned that we CAN break and reverse these self defeating thoughts and behaviors no matter how long we’ve been perpetuating these in our life. Its quite ironic becuase you would think a person like myself who is insecure and antisocial will certainly not mix well with a profession that requires you to have a shit load of confidence and not be afraid to socialize with people of all things., but somehow, this is where life led me and I found great breakthroughs in my life learning Social Work.
Society’s perception and my perception of myself was that I am not suppose to graduate from college and get a degree, because I come from a broken family, I am a second class citizen, my parents were migrants, and we lived on my dads paycheck while growing up. Amidst of all these learned negative traits, negative thinking, negative beliefs and behaviors, in Social Work, I learned that I DO NOT have to be a victim of my past circumstances nor do I have to live under society’s stereotypical views as someone who comes from broken families, but instead, I can CHANGE the way I think, and use my skills and discover strengths I did not know I had. All of these breakthrough discoveries were all discovered through my education. Being an educated young man has been the greatest asset to me, knowledge, as they say, is truly POWER.
Through my education, I was EMPOWERED to break these false beliefs of myself and how society viewed me because of my “person-in-environment” or “past”. My breaking of this so called dominant paradigm (popular beliefs, even if not always true) in society explicitly is summed up in what Rapper Eminem profoundly elaborates in his message song entitled: “Not Afraid”
“I don’t give a damn what you (society) think, I’m doin’ this for me, so fuck the world feed it beans its gassed up, if it thinks its stopping me, Imma be what I’m set out to be without a doubt undoubtably, and all those who look down on me, I’m tearing down your balcony”. -Eminem
Okay… maybe not the tearing down of the balcony part, but everything else I strongly believe.
Going to college was certainly a hard decision at first because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do in life. In the end, I simply made the move to go college regardless if my circumstances permitted it or not, or regardless of what society expected of me. Throughout my 5 years in school, I worked my butt off and took on different jobs just to make ends meet. The struggle was real let me tell yah. There were times where attaining the goal of graduating college seemed so far away that whenever I pondered on the thought, only discouragement and despair filled my mind. Nonetheless, I persevered and constantly moved in a forward direction (even if at times, I felt like I was moving back). Regardless, I put in hard work and chose to be better.
Throughout my 5 years of college, like many of us, I continously experienced life in the front row seats, and by that I mean having gone through loss, loneliness, depression, failures, anxiety, isolation, suicidal ideations, and the ever presently recurring thoughts of “what the Fc$K am I doing in life”, or “am I doing the right thing?”, or “What if this is a mistake?”, were the constant thoughts pulling me from behind. Yet amidst ALL this.., I somehow made it through and got my degree in Social Work.
It may sound like I am really proud of myself, I actually am, but not just entirely because I got my degree, but more so, because I just proved society wrong and those people who never thought I would make it in life. I proved to myself, to society, and the critics that REGARDLESS of what background you come from and what painful and self defeating experiences you’ve gone through early on in life, you CAN STILL achieve GREAT THINGS & SUCCEED in life, RIGHT NOW. And if I could do it, YOU CAN TOO.
Iv’e also learned that it’s good to be humble, but it does not mean you can’t have a killer mentality. Having that killer mentality got me through my college journey, even if at times, the self doubts were always present. Throughout my academics, I made it my priority to invest in my education and everything else became secondary. Despite going through hardships, I did my best not to let life and its trials and stumbling blocks stop me in my pursuit into excelling in school.
It got real hard at times, especially during my depression stages which lasted for 2 years, but none of that mattered because my vision of getting my degree far outweighed all the burdens that life had thrown at me. And truthfully speaking, problems in life will always be present, and there will NEVER be a “perfect” or “problem free” moment in our lives before we wait to make big decision.
What I learned throughout these last 5 years in college and in my nearly 25 years of existence is that you;
(ONE)—- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A VICTIM OF YOUR PAST; you may not have had the best opening, but you can certainly STILL have a GREAT ending!
(TWO) —-Take risks, and go ahead and make your choices regardless of your circumstances, don’t wait for a perfect time;
(THREE) —-have faith & DO NOT let anyone distract you from your goals (you have to believe in it more than anything regardless of what people say, even your family may not agree with you!);
(FOUR)—- hang the fck on, there will be times where you feel like you are in the beginning phases of climbing a mountaintop, that you don’t think you will ever reach the peak, have faith that you will reach it overtime! its a process!
(FIVE) —-Don’t get so focused on the destination; enjoy the journey! Most of the great things and discoveries in life happen when you’re in the MUD or VALLEY. Flowers only grow after it rains! You discover greatness in your most painful times!
(SIX) —-JUST DO IT (like Nike 😉 YOU WILL have doubts and YOU WILL fail often, but it is in the doubts and failures that you discover your strengths and purposes!
(SEVEN) — NEVER, and I mean NEVER, allow life to defeat you. You may stumble at times (THAT IS A GIVEN), and that is TOTALLY okay my friend! but you will not fall! The hell with what people say or what society thinks of you, do you, be yourself (being true to yourself is VERY important), be authentically you, be awesome to somebody, and above all, walk in love, don’t waste time with negative people.
(EIGHT) You can’t do it alone, I’m gonna say it again… YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE! Life is already hard on its own, and doing LIFE alone will only get you so far! Surround yourself with people who uplift you and believe the best in you;
(NINE) have a role model(s) in life, someone who you aspire to become like and inspire that shit out of you, emulate how they lived life and tackled challenges and overcame, and finally
(ten) HAVE FAITH.
…and of course, if you’re struggling with any of these, I am here for you and here to listen! You are a lot stronger than you think my friend.
All the best,