It's been nine years since I entered the world of college.
It took me five years to finish undergrad and four years to get my master's. I feel like I've been a perpetual student. I used to beat myself up because I didn't graduate with my master's within a two-year time span like I had originally planned; we plan, the universe laughs.
In less than 50 days, I will be walking across the stage celebrating the end of my graduate-level academic journey. It's a journey that, at times, has been rocky and uncertain. I almost gave up more than once, but I didn't. Instead, I turned my life around. I endured emotional and financial obstacles that made it seem impossible for me to reach the finish line, but I kept going.
In the beginning, I began a gradual free fall into a black hole of an abusive relationship with a narcissist who possessed psychopathic tendencies who subsequently broke me, stole large sums of my money and encouraged me down a path of self-sabotage so he could attempt to control every facet of my life. I broke free of that situation and never looked back with the love and support of my friends and family. Enough was enough. After battling my emotions and slowly unraveling the thread that kept me tied up in manipulation, I decided enough was enough. I didn't deserve to be treated like shit and I deserved to have a good life.
Soon, I'll be able to say "I did it. I really did it." I have a lot to be proud of and sometimes I don't give myself credit. I'm learning to give myself credit and be proud of my accomplishments. The odds were stacked against me from childhood and I defied those odds. I learned that my background didn't define me and never will define me.
I know I've written this same spiel before, but I want to reiterate to those who feel like they can't accomplish their goals that they can despite the odds they may be facing. It doesn't matter if it takes two years, three years, five years or even ten years; all that matters is it, whatever "it" is, whether that's a degree, a business or a dream job, comes to life.
It may have taken me nine years to get through schooling, but that doesn't matter. All that matters is I never, ever, ever gave up - and you shouldn't either.