I’m not going to graduation.
The 1960’s orange and gold brocade cushions of the Italianate couch gave slightly as I sat my parents down in their living room to make the big announcement. It was the living room that I had helped them decorate when we moved into our dream home ten years earlier. It’s where I told them that I would not be attending my college graduation.
They didn’t say much. I had made up my mind. I had finished college and that was that. No need for fanfare—and graduations were so passe.
To my hard working, teacher and college bookstore manager mother and father who would have enjoyed a ceremony celebrating their only girl of four children to graduate with a bachelors degree from a college that they fully funded, I acted like a spoiled brat.
I had no qualms about cheating them out of sharing in what I had finished.
Here are some things in my life I never finished:
Tap dancing. Just as I was getting good, I left for greener pastures which in Suburbia meant preteen makeout sessions behind the garage in someone’s grassy green backyard.
Painting the bathroom in the house I shared with five others in college. Leaving a big red swath of oil paint against the white walls of our shared bathroom left a big, red mark on me with my housemates. Let someone else finish it. They did.
Not making it in time to share my mother’s last breaths on this earth. When the call came, I sped in my car in the post Memorial Day pre-dawn light as two, Canadian geese led my way. The night before I sat by her bed, held her hand and thanked her all of the things she gave me. I told her how much I loved her. And then I left. I wish I had stayed and finished what she had started with me.
By not finishing, I cheated my teacher, I cheated my housemates, I cheated my mother and I cheated my parents.
But mostly I cheated myself.
We women tend to do that. We don’t finish things. We start things, then often don’t finish them. And in this way, by playing small we cheat ourselves.
Why do we do this?
We’re afraid of failure.
We’re afraid of success.
We’re afraid of making a mistake.
We’re afraid of not being perfect.
We’re afraid of getting too close for fear of rejection.
We’re afraid of our own future greatness.
We’re afraid our gifts are sub-par.
We’re afraid our gifts are even greater than we realize.
When we don’t allow others to acknowledge our talent, our accomplishments, or our work, we’re taking ourselves for granted. We’re cheating the world and ourselves by not sharing our greatest gifts.
We can change that.
We women are a force.
Yes, I could slap my spoiled brat self in the face for the ungrateful spirit which I showed my parents. Or, I could try to know and understand that young woman who was surprised at her own earned greatness and was too fearful to acknowledge it.
It’s never too late to change and become the person you were meant to be.
Step into your own greatness.