Skip to main content

Everyone has their own challenges to overcome, their own measure of success.

Earlier this afternoon I posted this poster on Facebook.


And told a story of how an ex's cousin had put me down many years ago because my ex had a degree and I had deferred my own degree - and the cousin assumed I'd dropped out. I ended the story by saying he may have one degree, but I now have three. In other words, I turned out not to be the failure this cousin had thought I was.

To my surprise the first comment in response to this post was set to dress me down, saying that letters after your name is not the only way to succeed. I realise this comment came from a place of hurt and upset in the person who posted it. That person has had a lot to deal with lately, I totally get that. I have offered my support where I could.

Nonetheless, the comment was wholly uncalled for. I was not saying degrees were the only sign of success.

All my life I've had to work pretty damn hard to be consider 'equal' to other people. I have two disabilities which affect my life. I have low vision and ADHD. These disabilities create significant challenges for me. I can't read as fast as other people, for one thing, and I have serious organisational challenges as well. No one was surprised when I failed year ten at high school and was forced to drop out.

In fact, on many occasions my parents were told if I ever worked, it would only be in a sheltered workshop.

When I did my Grad. Dip. Ed.. I learned about Howard Gardner and his theory of multiples intelligences and since that time, I've been a huge advocate of this theory. I don't believe academic intelligence is the only one worth measuring. Likewise, I have always argued that high intelligence quotient and high achievement at school is not a guarantee of success, but more than that, I've always be a strong advocate of happiness being the measure of success!

I've always said that if my boys grew up to be beach bums, but were content in their lives, then I would consider them successful.

So, right now I feel deeply hurt. That comment sent me in a steep downward spiral. I've worked so, so hard to achieve the degrees I have.

I can't get work like other people, so cannot measure my success in money earned or hours worked, but studying makes me happy and gives me a sense of purpose. Having those degrees is a measure of the hard work I've done over the past twenty years. I'm hurt that I can't be proud of that without being passively accused of academic elitism. Besides my kids, I have nothing to show for my life other than these degrees. I have no house, no business, no career, no savings. I have letters and for a person who is legally blind and has ADHD, that is a big deal.

Comments

Kate said…
Wow Sif. Nothing like writing a whole post about someone without addressing an issue privately. Or tweeting about them. Nice.

My reaction was about academic elitism yes. I agree with the poster you put up. Absolutely. Your implication that your having three degrees to that other person's one was somehow indicative of greater success smacked of academic elitism to me. I don't see how else that could have been construed in the comment you wrote.

I am astonished that you feel the need to call me out in such a way. Utterly astonished.
Sif Dal said…
You know what, Kate, that was absolutely not the only way to read that in the context of the meme itself. The people in the meme had all been told they weren't good enough, and all went on to be far more than 'good enough'. In that context, I was also showing I had gone far beyond the mark set for good enough (having a degree).

Your words totally came out of left field for me. They accused me of something I actively fight against. Frankly, they were not worthy of the person I have always believed you to be. I'm not pretty or popular, I have nothing anyone admires except my ability to, slowly, work my way through a course, it is what gives me a sense of self, but you felt the need to come along and say, 'So what? They're just letters.' To lots of people they are just letters, to me they are proof that I'm not a complete waste of space.

As for privacy, practice what you preach. If you had a problem with me being proud of my achievements? If you thought I was having a go at people who haven't or can't gain letters (through no fault of their own, might I add - evidently you think very little of me, which hurts more than you'd think - as if I'd have a go at your boy, I adore that kid from afar these days but he has always had a special place in my heart, him and O), why not message me instead of having a going on Facebook?
Me said…
I think it is amazing what you have accomplished given your low vision and ADHD. For many years I didn't get jobs I was more than capable of doing because I didn't have a degree. I studied part time while working full time and having a baby and finally got the piece of paper that everyone put so much faith in.
Be proud of what you have accomplished !
Have a great day.
Me
Sif Dal said…
I think the discrimination against people who have skills but no degree is reprehensible! My brother, husband and father have all had that experience as well. Well and truly qualified in skills sets, but no paperwork. It's bullshit! Sorry you experienced that!

Popular posts from this blog

12 Things Happy People Do Differently - a self-reflection...

A few days ago a Facebook friend posted the above poster on her wall. I believe she got these points from this blog which she enjoys reading, and the bloggers on the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog derived their discussion of these points from this book, available on Amazon - you're welcome! I have to admit, I haven't read the blog or the book I've just mentioned but wanted my readers to have access to the sources of the poster for their own reflective purposes.
The New Year will be upon us in but a few days and I thought this a great opportunity to do a little personal assessment on how I'm playing the happy game. I'm often not very happy at all - I don't need to be happy all the time, let me just say that up front - I personally believe that life is a balancing act and those who seek euphoria often will also often feel desolation because in all things there must be balance. The great riches of the few on this planet come at the personal cost of the many as is …

The symbolism of elephants...

Just recently I've been seeing and noticing elephants everywhere!

A few weeks ago I saw the Samsung Elephant Ad, and watching that led me to watching a video with an elephant painting (seriously, you have to watch it to believe it!).

Then last night the boys told me they were having a free dress day at school to raise money for 'Mali the Elephant' - who turned out to be a paper maché statue which the children will paint and then show around the council before it comes back to the school to stand outside the performing arts room.

Then this morning I followed a link from Twitter to Toushka Lee's blog and read this post about an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka.

This morning the Grumpy Old Man did another driving test and unfortunately didn't pass. We've booked his next test and are looking forward to that now. About ten minutes before he walked in the door I saw this poster on Facebook...


At the time, I didn't know if the Grumpy Old Man had been successful or …

Alone... And Stuff...

Do you ever just need to be alone?



As the boys are growing up, we have more times when the house is quiet. The youngest will be asleep. One will be reading, one will be playing on his computer with headphones on, one will be painting and there is stillness.

Sometimes, even that is not enough.

Sometimes I crave being alone, with no possibility of someone suddenly realising they have to tell me something important or ask me a question or even just crash about in the kitchen.

Sometimes I crave S P A C E, lots and lots of space, being able to walk from room to room without encountering another soul.

This is how I felt when I woke up this morning, so instead of getting ready for work, I decided to stay home. Get up, but not go anywhere, no hear the sound of my own voice, or anyone else's.

I think this might just be part of getting older. After a lifetime of chasing after other people and trying not to be alone, my mind and body is full of thoughts, experiences, feelings, and busy-ness …