Not a Statistic

I recently came across this statistic on teenage pregnancy: Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30.

I stopped in my tracks.

Truth be told, I am a teen mom. I was pregnant at 16, had my son at 17. It wasn't planned. Obviously. In fact, kids weren't in my plans. I wanted an education, a career, and travel. Eleven years later, I now forget that what feels like a lifetime ago, I was, in fact, a teenage mother. I was a baby, far too young to have my own. I wasn't promiscuous and certainly not what you'd envision for a girl who ended up pregnant at 16. Honestly, I'm not proud of it one bit. The things people have said, the way they have looked at me. It won't end either. I'll always be the younger mom. I'm ok with that though, because they didn't know me then or now, nor do they know my story. And while judgement can be passed all it wants to be, I'm here to say something. You don't have to be a statistic. 

Now that my son is entering middle school this fall, the reality and nostalgia that is flooding me is ever present. I don't feel old enough to have a middle school aged child. In reality, I'm not. Yet here I am, and I am so proud. Naturally, I love my child and I love where my life has gone. Just over a year after having my beautiful baby boy, I spent the next five years in the Army. Every long run and miserable moment, I imagined running to him. I started taking college classes after my first deployment, then again during my second deployment, and while on active duty before I was honorably discharged. It was for him. In the middle of that time, I met my now husband and had a sweet little girl. I started a business, and went back to school. At 28, I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in business and was the only student in my graduating class to receive a leadership award.

It's surreal.

Education has always been my goal. It was never something I wasn't going to do. My plan is to continue on. If for nothing else, just to prove to myself and the world that I can do it. College is hard, it's especially hard with kids, work, and everyday life. But it's not impossible. Here's proof that you don't have to be a statistic. Whether you're under 30 or nearing 60, your dream is still out there - go get it.