I enjoy the day when individuals and organizations applaud those with technical degrees who have turned them into careers. My technical degree has taken me farther and with more joy than most college degrees would have and it did not weigh me down with debt.
This comes at the end of a couple of weeks where staying quiet around the office seemed the better thing to do rather than express an opinion. This comes at the end of a couple of weeks where the team members were asked to submit there professional bios and resumes. The bios were to be posted on the website as a means to communicate the credibility of the company to prospective business partners and such.
I hesitated and then wrote my bio. Feeling intense shame as I compared it to the others. There is no advanced degree. There is no “president” or “CEO” title. There is no multi-million dollar development or discovery or research study. There is no honorary scholarship. There is only decades of surviving through a shit ton of adversity and trauma to get to this moment.
As a graphic designer with a degree from a small technical school in South Dakota, I have been turned down hundreds of times when applying for jobs. The person with the 4-year degree was always favored. The only way I have survived the past 10 years is through freelance work which is based on my willingness to do just about any kind of work for any organization. More importantly, based on connections with kind individuals who thought of me and made a connection. I am very grateful to all those individuals. They are all very kind. None of them cared about my level of education, all they know is what it is like to work with me, which must be pleasant enough to continue with them or another.
I accept full responsibility for feeling shame when it comes to level of education. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.
May the shame transcend into honor. May the shame hidden in the tethers of advanced academia be replaced with the wings of respect and celebration of the expression of the self.
Perhaps this coming week, I will change my professional bio and proudly state the degree and educational institution from which I graduated with joy. For I recall the day I graduated and felt immense accomplishment. Or perhaps I will state that I am a grateful person who wishes to simply survive in this world through the expertise I have acquired and share that expertise on behalf of organizations who wish to flourish with decent visual communication.
It wasn’t until later did I found myself punished and shamed for not having a degree. What I should have done at that moment is recognize the fear in others instead of turning it into self hatred and disgust. The disgust in myself had turned me into a design machine where I simply received data and spit out a design. I got tired of always looking into the eyes of those with advanced degrees and seeing judgement cast upon me. Perhaps it was imagined. It wasn’t in their minds, it was a reflection of my own thoughts.
The guilt and shame of not having a degree has always been magnified by my family – one filled with advanced degrees in Business, Art, Engineering, Education, Law, Data Science and more. The ones with degrees are listened to with respect and spoken of with pride. The ones without degrees are talked about with pity and remorse over a mind wasted.
Is any of it true? Does an advanced degree = advanced honor and respect?
The truth is, we are all loved. The truth is that we are all worthy of expressing ourselves in our daily lives. The truth is, we are all worthy of knowing we have enough each moment when it comes to survival. Safety. Creation of self. Nourishment. Intimate healthy connections. Strength. Love. Ability to communicate. Expression of wisdom. Connection to inner source of knowing. And being the essence of our ultimate selves throughout all dimensions.
I am loved. As are you.