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Not being able to finish high school does not make you less of a person or dooms you to fail at life.

I just wanted to take this chance to talk to all you out there who are currently struggling with high school and say; high school is not the end and it is definitely not the most important thing in your entire life. It is okay to fail. It is okay to not be able to do it. It is okay to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Take it from someone who has failed and took the long way round and still came out on the other side alright. Take it from me; not being able to finish high school does not make you less of a person or dooms you to fail at life.

I am 25 years old and today I finished high school!

Seven years is the gap between those two pictures. The first one is me, 18 years old leaving high school with graduation cap on but without enough credits to get a diploma. The second picture is me today, 25 years old picking up my diploma after finally finishing all the classes I needed to get enough credits. It may have taken 10 years, but I have finished high school and I am damn proud over that!

The story of how 18 year old me failed to get enough credits to graduate high school (the short version):

I was always a very good student. I had a easy time understanding and learned fast. My parents were so proud. They used to brag to all their friends what a good kid I was. I always did as I was told and I never got into trouble.

In high school I hit a wall. I don’t know how or exactly when it happened but I suddenly found myself trapped and I saw no way out. What had started as a mild performance anxiety with me wanting to do my best to please everyone around me and get attention had grown into something big that suddenly ruled my entire life. Suddenly I couldn’t go to school. I was afraid of facing people. People asked so many questions like where I had been and why I hadn’t shown up for class or why I couldn’t get the assignments in on time. I did not know. I did not know why I couldn’t do those things so I just avoided the questions. In senior year I did no homework or assignments for any class for almost the entire year.

I became a habitual liar. I lied about everything both small things and big things so I could get away from all the questions. I became so good at it that it took months before my parents realized that I did not go to school at all. I lied so much that soon every word that came out of my mouth was a lie. And under all lies I was suffocating, so completely wrapped up in lies that I could no longer tell the truth. I was trapped. And there were nobody there to help me.

"What happened to you, you used to be such a good kid." "Stop being so lazy and just do it." "How hard can it be to just go to school". "Are you just going to waste all your potential?" "Kids today are so spoiled, thinks their whole life will be handed to them". ´"Don’t you want to do anything with you life?" "Do you do this just to spite us?"

There were nobody there to help me. Everyone told me I had brought this on myself and now had to live with the consequences. Nobody would stop and think; hey, maybe there is something wrong? Maybe I was ill? But no. I was the fallen angel, the good kid turned bad. I was rebelling and shaming my parents. I brought it on my self. 
Now, 7 years later I know that is not the truth.

It gets better!!

I don’t lie anymore. I still suffer greatly from anxiety which is why it took me seven years to fix my credits, but that too will get better. By the end of next month I’m going to start seeing a therapist about it. I have a job where I am ranked as one of the best workers. I live with my boyfriend who I love and who loves me back very much. And it took seven years, but I have that stupid high school diploma that I can shove in the face of all who have looked down on me these past years.

High school is not the end of the world. And it is never too late to get an education. Take small steps, take your time. Do it when you feel ready. It is insane that you are expected to know what you want with your life when you are 18. I still don’t know, but it’s okay. It is my future and I will tackle it in a way I see fit and it will take the time it takes. I will be happy and I will no longer listen to people who thinks I’m something I’m not!

Your grades in school does not tell your worth as a person. They do not tell how smart you are. You are so much more then high school! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!! 

And take it from somebody who knows; failing high school does not make you a failure!! 

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She’s so freaking wise… I mean she was Hermione Granger for like 10 years though so I guess she had that coming.

Ugh she’s just so real… and perfect.

Unmade in the USA: The Inside Story of U.S. Foreign-Policy Failure in South Sudan

"On the drive back to the prefabricated containers where IMC and other international NGOs have their offices, Wol and I talked about the role the United States has played, or not played, in this unfolding tragedy. Like almost everyone else I’d talked to in South Sudan, he held out hope that America would somehow bring the suffering to an end. At one point he braked hard and brought the vehicle to a stop. “When I was a child,” he said, “I wore a T-shirt for the USA. It said California, and I wore it for many years. I loved that shirt. It was my first. Right now, America is still in my heart," writes Ty McCormick. 

Image by Ty McCormick. South Sudan, 2014. 

Read the full story by Pulitzer Center grantee Ty McCormick for Foreign Policy