I was supposed to have graduated in the spring of 2019 and that obviously did not happen. I had to watch all of the people I started college with post pictures of themselves with their degrees and it hit me like a truck.

Thoughts such as "I should have graduated with them" and "I was too stupid to graduate on time" swam in my head for weeks. However, life is not a linear path that is mapped out for us at birth. It holds many twists and turns and everyone's paths are unique to them. Just because my path is different doesn't mean I am worth less.

College is difficult and the reality is that many people do not graduate within four years.

Maybe it's because you partied a little too hard your first semester, but that typically isn't the case. Life happens and it can take the form of mental illness, a death in the family, inability to quickly adjust to an independent life, and so much more. Our value as people are not dependent on our grades we make and neither is our intelligence.

I have met some absolute geniuses in college who had a 2.5 GPA simply because of their mental health or they had no time due to having to work. I have met people who graduated late due to taking the bare minimum classes to ensure that they were not overwhelmed and could apply 100% of their effort. Graduating late is the worst feeling but knowing that you worked hard for it is worth it.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on

To get a degree at all is an accomplishment, and to say that you got it while overcoming life is extraordinary.

To even get accepted into higher education is an accomplishment in itself. There are so many people who take time off of college to focus on other things first and just never return. The fact that people still overcome those issues and return is amazing. Time is a construct and no one should have to fit the mold of that construct.

You come first always.

If you have mental health issues, take care of that first. If you have family problem, come back to school when things calm down. No one knows your life except you, so do what your life demands of you first. There is no one who has the authority to tell you what to do and how fast you should do it.

Don't let anyone shame you and do not let your mind bully you either.

I don't know about you, but I've spent too much time comparing myself to others when it comes to academics. I've put myself down because I didn't finish in four years. I've put myself down because my GPA isn't as good as others. What is that going to accomplish?

The second I stopped comparing and stopped wallowing in self-pity, my GPA rose and I actually got my graduation date. That's something I think everyone should do: walk away from that negative thinking and just focus on yourself to achieve your own goals.