I was told at 19 I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t possibly become a mom and raise a child on my own. At 22, I was told I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t possibly be a single mom, work and go to school to get my degree. Well, today at 26, I will walk across that stage, degree in hand, and prove every single person who doubted me wrong once and for all. Even with the booming voices trying to drown me out, countless people trying to put me down, still, I rise.
Today I will walk across that stage not only for myself, but for my daughter as well. For the sweet little girl who came into my life and forever changed it for the better. People told me my life was over when I became a mom at 19, but the truth is, it was only just beginning. That beautiful baby girl was everything I didn’t know I so badly needed and more. I am standing here today because she showed me the way. Through all the countless setbacks, down right difficult moments, and crappy cards life has dealt me, still, I rise.
The journey to the degree was nowhere near simple or easy, but then again, who ever said it would be?! I have come to see that sometimes the things we desire most, the ones that set our souls on fire, require the greatest deal of patience, time and energy. And man, did my degree require just that and so much more of me. I spent countless nights staying up till 3-4am, working on the floor by the nightlight in my daughter’s room, just to get an assignment done before she awoke for the day. Every waking moment that I wasn’t working or raising my little girl, I spent glued to the computer screen.
But even through the sleepless nights, long work days and hectic schedule of life, still, I rise.
I stand here today still rising, refusing to let the voices of others extinguish the flame lit beneath me. I stand here today turning the cants into cans and my dreams into plans. While my path may have been unconventional or different then someone else’s, it is mine to call my own and I am darn proud of it. Although others may have thrown in the towel long ago or chosen to be defeated, still, I rise.
To anyone who ever doubted me, thank you. Thank you for giving me the motivation to do everything you once said I couldn’t. To those who tried to hold me back or break me, I hate to tell you this, but you can’t. My past should have very well destroyed me years ago, but still, I rise.
Today I walk across that stage, Summa Cum Laude, highest honors, but above all, I walk across that stage today with my beautiful girl watching proudly from the stands. Today I show her that no matter what happens to you in life, you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it and believe in yourself.
I hope when she looks back on this moment she sees that there is always a reason to hold your head high, get back up and keep pushing forward in life. Regardless of what may come our way next, still, I will rise, and as always, it will all be for you my sweet Addison Charline. Thank you for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.