You know how often people say better late than never? Forget that. Better late.
As a “mature” adult going back to school, every time I get down on myself, people say that. And you know what? No. And the same goes for me and getting down on myself. Not that I’d recommend the path I’ve taken to anyone else, but in many ways it is a great path.
As I go through the motions of earning a degree in an area that I’ve worked in, I have many challenges ahead of me. It is difficult. As one of my professors explained on the first day of class, it is harder for him to learn things in his mid-thirties than when he was in college. Apparently, this will make his class pretty easy. Sadly, I am also in my thirties. If this morning was any example, my mind is going to have trouble with some of the acrobatics.
This is not the hardest thing though. The hardest thing is going to be insisting that I am going to get something more out of this than a piece of paper. If at the end of this, I could be happy with a piece of paper, I would have the easiest road ahead of me. At least 80% of all testable material from here to my degree, I have done professionally. I can coast through this and collect a piece of paper. I can tip my hat on the stage and smile. Better late than never. I can leave here with the same advantages as every other graduate in my class and truly embrace the fact that it is better late then never.
I will cross that stage and proudly say, “Better Late!” As kids stumble through college, professors give them giant girders to incorporate into themselves. Kids get these huge ideas and concepts and when they graduate, they have this tremendous skeletal framework and they apply for a job and start putting together the walls of their building. For most people, it takes at least a few years and a few jobs until they know what kind of building they are building.
When I cross that stage, I will not be the smartest or brightest of my class. I will not be the youngest. I probably will not even be the oldest. I do intend to be the best. I say this because I had to build myself up before this trip through college. I went through a long and hard process of discovering what iron was and how to mine and smelt it. I figured out how to build things and build myself. I had to make my own girders. And though I may not have had blueprints, I built something of myself.
My challenge is to take advantage of something that few people ever get. I know what kind of building I am building. I know what I want to be when I grow up. I am grown up. I get to go through college and have professors at MY beck and call to help me shape myself. I am not here to grow. I am not here for a rubber stamp on a piece of paper. I am here to change myself. It would be so much easier to just wait and grab that piece of paper and shake some hands.
But as I said, this is not about getting a degree late being better than never. I will graduate college and I will be better off than if I had graduated and then learned what I wanted to do. I will leverage my professors and peers in ways that others couldn’t. I will make sure that this strange path I have taken will be worth it. This is not a forecast , but a promise I swear to myself now. I tell you this because it is worthwhile to me to state it out loud, but also because I hope all of you have something that you will do and make it better late.