My Facebook feed is full of beautiful young people getting their degrees this year and proud parents (mostly mothers!) showing off their young with their degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I adore these photos, but every single time my heart hurts when I see them.
Kevin was supposed to receive his degree at Maties this year, but as we all know, he is in New Zealand, so couldn’t do it in person. He was also supposed to beam on photos with a huge smile because his hard work has been publicly acknowledged. But he was thousands of miles away the day his friends got to experience this. Georgia and I tried to make it up to him with a ‘graduation ceremony’ at his farewell – complete with a robe and all that goes with it. But it’s just not the same as experiencing all the hype and happiness of receiving your degree in person. Although, I must say, I think he enjoyed that fact that he could be robed and barefoot at the same time tremendously!
So today Kevin, I want to honour you for the degree that you have obtained through hard work and perseverance. Your achievement is so much bigger since you were under the wrong impression when you started studying. You thought that you were at university to play footie and visit wine farms and make new friends, so when the reality set in that academics will unfortunately dictate your life for three years, it was a very hard time of transition for you, but you aced it nonetheless.
I am sure you know very well that this degree does not guarantee you anything. And I’m also sure that many people have told you “It doesn’t help to get a degree in South Africa.”
I want to tell you today, that your degree is worth much more than you think:
Even if it has only taught you that no matter how long you procrastinate, eventually you will HAVE to do that assignment or go to that class or finish that project or wash the dishes (or text your mom!);
If it has taught you that not all people are who they appear to be initially, and only after seeing them day in and day out do you get the real picture of who they truly are;
If it has taught you the age-old principle of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) and that if you don’t put in the work, you will rarely get the results;
If it has taught you that sometimes you have to work with people you don’t like to get the best possible end result;
If it has taught you that we appreciate the most wonderful times in our lives only after the fact, and that we should seize every moment;
If it has taught you that sometimes, no matter how hard you study and how much you commit, things just don’t work out the way you had hoped they would, but that that is OK too;
If it has taught you that one decision can have many more far-reaching consequences than you could ever have imagined;
If it has taught you one hundredth of what you are going to need to be a successful psychologist, but that little bit of knowledge is what will make all the difference;
If it has taught you that despite us thinking and planning our paths to go a certain way, it often doesn’t;
If it has taught you that life may be unfair sometimes but it still goes on;
If it has taught you that disappointment and elation and utter heartbreak and happiness and every other emotion you can think of, is a wonderful gift, because it means you feel;
If it has taught you that status and money and wealth do not make you a nice person, but that you must dig so much deeper than the surface;
If it has taught you that your circumstances do not need to dictate what type of human being you are.
If it has taught you that your mother has your back every step of the way (although her contribution has seriously messed up your marks a few times!) no matter what;
Yes, if you have only learned ONE of all these things, then your degree is priceless.
I know I have said this to you a million times, but it is truly how I feel: I am so incredibly proud of you Kev. I know how much you have invested in this degree and I know that you will reap what you have sown at the right time. The discipline and time and hard work and dedication you put into your degree, will serve you well for the rest of your life. To everyone who knows you, you are light and love and laughter and no degree in the world can compare to, or give you, those attributes.
I don’t know what your future holds, and how many other degrees or accolades you will still receive. I don’t know where you will end up professionally and what you will be or who you will become. What I do know is that you will make a huge success of your life, simply because you choose to. Every day. And for that I honour you today.
I love you my son.
Your proud Mama x
My barefoot graduate