There was a story on the local news last night about a man who is going to graduate with the Columbia University class of 2012. That’s a news-worthy story enough as far as I’m concerend. Ivy League graduates are impressive, no matter their backstory. But this man, he’s pretty damn special.
For nineteen years he’s taken two classes a semester at Columbia because that is all he was allowed for free as an employee. Yes, he’s a University employee. At night, he cleans the very buildings he sits in as a student during the day.
Nineteen years cleaning toilets and mopping floors. Nineteen years of four classes and only four classes.
Nineteen years he’s waited to walk across that stage, watching hundreds of kids and young adults go before him. I’m sure he had moments of doubt. I’m sure he had moments where he wondered how come he had to work so hard while kids around him sailed right through. I’m sure he had moments where quitting seemed not only the easiest, but the most logical option. He is human after all. And nineteen years is a long time for most humans.
Talk about patience, perseverance and commitment-this man must have them all in spades for he just kept plugging away toward his goal-fighting any obstacle placed or self-created in his way. And now, as he’s ready to take his place among the graduates, do you think he’ll reflect on the doubt? Nah, he’ll probably just revel in the glory of a job well done. It won’t matter how long it took.
This story gave me pause not just because of the obvious janitor graduates angle but because it forced me to stop and acknowledge my own impatience for big goals. I’m notoriously anxious over things taking too long. I want my work to pay off, right now dammit. I want the riches for toil and I want them mid-toil thankyouverymuch.
I’ve not done anything for nineteen years except live and breathe.
The Columbia educated gentleman has taught me an Ivy League Lesson. Slow down mama. Your time will come. Hard work, perseverance and patience will get you just about anywhere you want to go, if you allow them, including some pretty hallowed halls.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.