In a conversation with a newlywed friend, he mentioned being received differently as a married man.
“How so?” I asked.
“Older people especially…have a sense of pride and visibly show how proud they are.”
He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know. The observation stung nonetheless.
“As a single person, I find that disheartening,” I replied.
But I don’t find that disheartening as a single person. I find it disheartening as a former high-achiever. I like to think I’ve spent the last ten years murdering the “I-graduated-Summa-Cum-Laude-and-will-be-rightfully-worshipped” part of my brain, but the little girl who built her self-esteem around being best-in-class refuses to fucking die. While talking to my newly married friend, I realized how unlikely I am to make anyone proud.
Before I dove head-first into a pool of self-loathing or societal resentment, I caught myself. “No one’s gonna say ‘SBG, I’m really proud of you for never marrying or having kids,'” I said. “But I shouldn’t need anyone to do so.”
Perhaps the rest of my life will be written off as a suspended adolescence during which I selfishly prioritized comfort and pleasure over maturity and growth.
Or perhaps adulthood starts when I stop needing a pat on the head and a “good girl” to feel secure in my choices.
 About this. My degree says “Magna Cum Laude.” Too much drinking and partying second semester of my senior year took my GPA down to a 3.79. HOWEVER, my second semester grades weren’t factored into my GPA at the time of my commencement. As far as my mama and everyone else who attended the ceremony are concerned, it was “Summa Cum Laude.” *insert halo emoji here*