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.