Is it possible to graduate on my own terms? There are two events in my life that have shaped me: My relationship with my dad, and my path within the institution of school. 

For the most part, my father has not been a part of my life. He has favoured landscapes and climbing and has structurally put me in second place. Because of this I have been trying to find validation from others and from myself. 

I have spent a long time in the educational system. I have been kicked out of two different schools because I wanted to change their rigid systems, and I have always had the feeling that I do not have individual choice. 

So why am I still trying to graduate from a higher education institution? Because I think this is the only way I know how to validate myself. To find my merit I need this stamp of approval, a diploma, to feel like I matter. Having said that, can I pave my path in an institution and graduate on my own terms? 

Inside the Willem de Kooning Academy I have my room and I have been working there for almost two months. This room contains notes that I have been writing every day for at least two hours. Each note is a part of what I need as an individual to validate myself. 

I invited people into my room to share my personal story and my vulnerability. This led me to discover that I am not the only one looking for this validation inside the institution of school. 

Because of these conversations I have concluded that I cannot receive validation from the institution of school: I am the only one that can validate myself and make me feel that I matter. Whether I graduate or not remains to be seen. 

2142 A6 pages, Handwritten text

Kayleigh Smetsers How to graduate feeling that I matter
Kayleigh Smetsers How to graduate feeling that I matter
Kayleigh Smetsers How to graduate feeling that I matter