Destiny’s Child – Survivor
As a result of continued an untreated depression while working on my bachelors degree my grades alternated between horrible and not so horrible, with strange semesters of perfect performance. As a result of my inconsistent performance, I was often on “academic probation”. Eventually the university said “enough”, and I was expelled from the school and not allowed to return for a minimum of two years.
Through luck and various deceits I was able to find a good job in my field. Every day that I was at work, I was afraid of being discovered and fired. Eventually, despite my fears, I settled into my work and was pretty good at it. As the two-year mark for my expulsion passed, I figured that would just keep working for as long as I could. Many people have good careers and lives without a college degree.
After a Human Resources audit, it was discovered that I did not have a diploma on file. I was called out for termination. My director (bless him) intervened for me and said that he would ensure that I got my degree if the company gave me the chance…and I would do it without any impact on my projects. He explained to me that in our field, without a degree I would never do more than the most basic science procedures or lab clean-up. No more research or engineering. He would keep HR from me, but I had to finish my degree, and do all of my assigned lab work and make it all work without a ripple. I was not allowed to ask for time off or anything special because of my school work. Deal!
There were many days when I did not sleep. After 10+ hours at work, I’d make the 1 1/2 hour commute to go straight to bio or chem lectures, then spend 4-5 hours in lab, then go to the library until they closed, then drive an hour in the middle of the night to go home to finish readings and/or homework. Then grab breakfast and get back to work for another day. At “full speed”, I could finish after three semesters and two summer terms. In the summers, our work research schedule was often light, so made extra money on the side by picking up extra shifts in our manufacturing plant. And one summer I even did some tv work for a new tv show that was filming in Baltimore. I was always tired, but I refused to quit. I was no stranger to sleeping in my car instead having lunch. I was running way in the red, and I had to pray that my depression would just hold out until I got through.
When my grandmother found out what I was doing, she explained that did not have the option to not finish college. She and my granddad had worked too hard and made too many sacrifices for my parents. I had an obligation to respect them by completing my education. I had to do this.
Predictably, towards then end, I was just tired and beat. I was making the best grades in my life and even getting promotions at work, but I was tired. So damn tired. The song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child became my rally call. There were many times when this song kept me going straight when I wanted to turn around and go home and be in my bed. I would be a survivor. Just give me some space and watch out!
I’m a survivor
I’m not gonna give up
I’m not gon’ stop
I’m gonna work harder
I’m a survivor
I’m gonna make it
I will survive