"Not finishing school is a lot more acceptable these days. Lying about it is another story."
Completing an education has always been a measure of success. Parents have the obligation to send their children to school and ensure that they become literate and productive members of society. It is every parent’s dream to see the day when her child puts on a graduation attire, walks up on stage, and earns that degree. These pandemic days, even a virtual graduation would suffice – after all, what can we do?
Many families still display their children’s graduation picture and “diploma” – a piece of paper that proves one indeed graduated – in their homes. Indeed, it is a source of pride. For many parents, the success of their children is theirs, too. Now they can say they’ve done their job as providers, and they are finally ready to let their child out into the “real world” – whatever that is.
It is especially significant, if not poignant if the child graduates amid numerous setbacks. Some children obtain scholarships. Some become working students. Their parents work doubly, triply hard to finance their education and provide for all education-related needs.
Unfortunately, not every child who steps into primary school manages to earn a college degree.
For some families, nothing is more important than putting food on the table. Everything else is secondary. Thus, children of school age are yanked out of their classrooms and forced into harsh realities early on in life. They need to help their parents eke out a living, or take care of younger siblings while their parents are out.
Some are not able to finish school because of sickness. Instead of living a normal, carefree life as students, they have to deal with their medical issues and fight to survive at a young age. This includes those who suffer from mental health issues that make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to live as their classmates would.
Others get married or have children at a young age, embracing a path that is immensely more challenging that getting a degree.
Yet others feel as though formal education is not for them. They may be trying to find their place in the world or may feel weighed down by the pressures put on them by society or by their families. They may already know what they want to pursue and feel that education would not necessarily increase their chance at success. In fact, some progressive companies no longer require a college degree for certain positions – just a set of skills and indications of resilience and agility.
Some might be taking a while figuring out how best to live their life.
There are conventional measures of success. In generations past, one has to graduate, find a job, build savings, get married, have children, stay married – essentially in that order – to be deemed successful.
Over the years, so long as one is not a burden to anybody else, and so long as one finds meaning and happiness in what one does and helps other people, one can be deemed successful. Getting a degree, getting married, having children, or staying married – these have become optional. It’s ok – no judgment, no pressure.
There is, however, a minimum requirement for being a grownup – and that is coming to terms with what you have and have not accomplished. Recognizing the role of your past in shaping who you are today, and resolving to carve a future from the lessons of history. Not resenting others who take a road different from yours. Being kind, being genuine, and being honest in presenting who you are to the rest of the world.
Dropping out of school is nothing to be ashamed of. Lying about it, however, to make yourself look better or sound smarter, is simply abominable.