This image is famous to pretty much anyone who enjoys sports, who watches ESPN, or who grew up in NC. Jim Valvano was no saint, but he is a legend, both for helming the team that won arguably the biggest upset in sports history as well as one of the most famous ESPY speeches (or really, any speech in the latter part of the 20th Century) ever. The bulk of this speech (which he actually gave several times at various NC events before the ESPY’s) can be summed up in its most famous phrase above.
When people ask how I am “doing this” as if I were the first person to ever finish my degree as a middle-aged adult with kids, that’s pretty much my answer. I can seem invincible at times. I can seem like I have all my shit together. Like I didn’t not bother to brush my toddler’s hair this morning, like I didn’t misread the last week of school info and almost send my son in looking like his teacher this morning when “dress like your teacher day” is tomorrow, like we don’t eat PB&J sandwiches for dinner at least once a week. Like my son doesn’t have to ask me at least twice a week if he has any clean shorts and I say “check the dryer”. Or like how I can’t afford the new laptop I desperately need for school because honestly, I’m not ready to cut down my “bourbon and beer” budget because some nights it’s the only thing that gets me through three hours of algebra and trig. I don’t get enough sleep. I do my makeup in the car or at work most days, if I bother at all. Sometimes I hit a wall and lash out at those around me, or just lie on my bed and cry for an hour.
But I Keep. Fucking. Going.
Why? Let me be brutally honest. Because of spite. Because of how angry I get when I read an article on a legitimate news site and there is a misspelling or poor grammar. When I see an ad with the same. When I see someone that I KNOW has a college degree (and sometimes a Masters) type “rather then” or “I don’t wear heals” on Facebook. It pisses me off that these people were able to accomplish what I should have but didn’t. I’m pissed at them, but mostly pissed at myself for being so lazy that I couldn’t even get through one year of college.
This is not the prettiest, brightest, most sparkling part of my personality, admittedly.
Of course I’m doing it for other reasons. To make a better life for my kids, to be able to pay off debt and travel one day, to continue working in a field that I love, to learn about all of the reasons for economic change. To finally become fluent in another language, which will hopefully open the door to finally learning a really hard language like Russian (dream big, kids, I want to be ready when the UN needs translators for Cold War 2).
But mostly, I’m doing it because I know I can, and it feels like a disservice to myself to quit (again) when I’m already halfway through. I’m a procrastinator, but I’m never going to be a damn quitter.
So this will be me when I finally walk across that stage, but I will get there. Eventually.
*(Super Embarassing guilty pleasure no. 6: MTV Challenges.)