My degree lives in a box, in a closet. I suppose it should be hanging on a wall somewhere, but frames are expensive. And if I hung it up for all to see, what would I be trying to tell them? I'm proud of what I achieved. I've accomplished more than others. I place more worth on myself than I do on others who've done less. It is a badge of my dedication and perseverance, a declaration of my world view, a sign proclaiming my ability to think critically, globally, beyond the limited horizons of the others, the uneducated. I'm a part of the club.
It was important to me to get my degree. In arts. In creative writing and the visual arts, of all things. Two things that so many people believe can be self taught. An easy degree. A good number of people, those with degrees of their own, feel that theirs is somehow worth more, that sciences, maths, humanities, etc take more out of you, require a greater level of intelligence/passion. This is far from the truth, and I don't need to argue it. No accredited university would hand out degrees in a field where the expectations didn't match or exceed the levels of work expected for other degrees. And I think that's a part of the reason for choosing my university's new name for my parchment. It went from being a university-college, to being just a university. And while my program was always a university program, and not some college night class where middle-aged mothers with empty-nest syndrome go to express themselves amongst angsty teens and veterans, it was important to me that there be no mistake of this.
I worked hard for my degree. I should hang it on the wall. But for all the reasons I know that my degree is equal to any other, I understand that those that didn't pursue higher education see themselves in a similar light. Especially when I work side by side with them. How can my education make me a better person, when we're in the same boat, living the same life? Hanging my degree, my piece of paper, for all to see, to admire, to ooh and ahh over, seems... boastful.
I guess I am just too humble. I am Canadian, after all.
A well dressed businessman came in for a coffee, chatted with my manager about whatever, and left commenting that all the baristas in Vancouver aren't nearly as friendly. "They're all sitting on their Fine Arts degrees, and are left bitter!"
"I am bitter," I tell my manager. Every. Single. Day.