So this will seem weird, unnecessary and self-serving, and maybe it is but I just want to get this out there and then move on. Next week I will complete my Spanish II class with an A grade, meaning that, at 50 years old, I will have something resembling a degree. An Associates, in fact, in Creative Writing from Austin Community College. I will have a GPA of 4.0 after 90 units, 60 of which will count toward my impending bachelors in English at UT-Austin. For some of you with degrees and Masters and Doctorates, achieved long ago and perhaps long since forgotten, this may seem lame.
I don’t care. I couldn’t feel more proud.
I’ve helped put others through school, though I couldn’t afford a university education for myself when it was age-appropriate. Instead I taught myself programming and became a senior analyst programmer at HSBC, BT, and Visa. I taught myself project management and became a senior PM at several US corporations. When I got sick and was laid off, I returned to school and took a few classes and became Editor in Chief of the college newspaper and of a commercial, local newspaper. I ran and edited a magazine that has been read in over 65 countries and part-owned and helped run an import, retail and media business. I became a Corporate Communications Manager when it became necessary to return to the business world. And I did this without any university degree.
When I tell people that I am back in school, it has been with apologetic sheepishness. Yeah, I know, I’m a loser and I should have done this when I was younger. But I didn’t. For whatever reasons, illnesses, misfortunes, wicked circumstance, personal tragedies and some truly awful decision-making, I never got there. I own that, I own those choices and that difficult life and I refuse to feel guilty or sheepish about any part of it or me. Frankly, fuck that. Fuck that shame. It’s useless and detrimental and it serves no one. I’m here now, doing what I’ve promised myself I’d do for the last 30 years. I start my English Honors class at UT next month. And, in two years or less, when I’m done with that I will move on to the MFA. Then the doctorate, should I live long enough. And I will feel no shame about it, only gratitude for the extraordinary people that have helped me reach this point and will help me get to the next place. (You know who you are. Thank you, all of you!)