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Letter 007 - Graduation


Read letters from an antihero

Letter 007 - Graduation

Christopher Bartley


It's taken me almost 7 years to complete my Masters degree. That's almost a decade. Most of the delay was from my shaming experience. The rest was perfectionism. And if I'm honest with myself, my perfectionism is a subconscious effort to avoid shame. Just the anticipation of shame, let alone the humiliation experience itself, can slow down much progress in my life.

Younger colleagues, who got their Bachelors degree after me, have Instagramed themselves in their Masters regalia. If that's not enough, they've now transitioned from junior to intermediate positions in their field. While they've become licensed professionals, I've morphed into the professional student. The only license I hold is a petition of extension to continue my academic program.

Besides harboring shame and comparing myself with others, I was trying so hard to hold on to my old research so all that time and work be wouldn't be a total waste. We're talking years of reading, annotating, questioning, submitting, head-scratching and late nights. After a while you get attached to the work, even if it's not moving forward.

But when I finally let the old work go, I got closer to finishing. Some of the old work even helped expedite the process. And now I'm almost done. What's my new research? The very problem that was preventing me from finishing in the first place: Shame.

Out of my humiliation, the Antihero Circle was born. And those years of research and development are now being transferred over to the academic setting, so I can finish this summer. What a journey. What started out as a separate project, is now being leveraged with peer-reviewed articles, relevant theories, solid frameworks and a master curriculum.

This summer, my completion will represent more than a deep competence in the theories of self-perception and public humiliation. My Masters will be about a deeper knowledge of myself. Mastering my past. Having authority over shame and choosing to leverage it to my advantage for serving others.

Let go, Antero. It's time to let go of the old you and the old work. The world is missing out on what you have to offer. You are too. It's time to graduate.