“I wish I could make a speech at this ceremony and tell every kid who is not wearing cords and winning scholarships that they are doing just fine,” my daughter, Bethany, said to me during yet another sibling's high school graduation.
She spoke from experience, as she, herself, admits that her grades were average during high school. No AP classes, no scholarships. Not. One. Cord. Yet Bethany had one thing that some of the cord bearers didn't have: she knew how to study, and it served her well.
After high school, she attended University of Kentucky, graduating with a business degree. “But I didn't just walk right into my dream job, or my dream salary,” she often reminds her younger siblings when they ooh and ahhh at her shiny life as a young professional in DC. She is also quick to confess that she even lost a job at one point and moved home for several months to sleep double on the bottom bunk.
But eventually, Bethany found her niche in marketing, then pursued her graduate degree from Georgetown in 2018. What’s more, she was named Student of the Year. “No one should peak in high school,” she says with conviction.
“Boy,” her younger sister Mary said several months after high school graduation (she was one of the ones winning the scholarships and wearing the cords). “You go through high school and finish in the top ten percent; you get all the cords and even a few medals; you win a full ride scholarship and even get named Student of the Year. Then you get to college and feel like an idiot.”
Mary also spoke from experience. She did all of the above and was offered a track scholarship to the United States Coast Guard Academy. The pressure was tremendous in this new atmosphere, and she admits she often felt like a buoy lost at sea. But time (and a lot of perseverance) changes everything. Mary has learned a thing or two about herself: that she is no idiot, for one, and (though she would never say it, but since I'm her mother, I can) that she is an absolute beast on the track. What's more, she is entering her senior year as a Three Star Cadet, a title which recognizes high military, physical, and academic achievement. Her future is looking brighter than ever.
Learning alongside some of the smartest kids in the country (even if you’re one of them) at a school like the USCGA can be intimidating, but it still might be right where you belong. Sleeping on the bottom bunk with your seven year old sister can make you feel like a loser, even if it is exactly where you need to be.
I am so proud of these two girls. Their paths were not easy, yet they still found their way. How inspiring that they took very different approaches to the peak, yet reached the same conclusions:
The path to the pinnacle looks different for everyone.
The journey is just as significant as the destination.
The growth cannot happen without the struggle.
This season of graduation is a perfect time to encourage your kids that life is a process of growth and struggle, struggle and growth. And remind them that as long as they keep moving forward, they are doing just fine.
Margie Sims is a writer, speaker, blogger, mom who lives with her family in Fairhope. To contact Margie or read more on life with ten kids, visit her blog at www.margie-sims.com