IT’S FINALLY OVER. Insert my deep sigh of relief here.
Graduation comes as sort of a bittersweet moment for me. Completing my degree has been a road fraught with frustration and has left me with very little warm fuzzy feelings towards my school and our modern day higher education system as a whole. I graduated high school with no idea how I was going to pay for school because I didn’t have a National Bank of Mom and Dad like my peers. I got a full time job and went to school at night time. I spent a lot of time wondering what in the world I was doing here and doubting whether this was all right for me, but I kept at it because college is “what you do.” I allowed people to convince me to change my major to something more “sensible,” and I am finishing with a degree in a field that I am not really all that interested in or passionate about (but at least it’s useful! they all say). It was a long, hard, expensive road and, to put it bluntly, I hated it. I wanted to quit on more than one occasion and the biggest thing that kept me from doing so was simply knowing that there would be so many people disappointed in me if I didn’t. I am the first person to earn a degree on my side of the family, and on my husband’s side, everyone has a degree and most people even have TWO and a masters. So, I had quite a bit of family motivation there.
Of course, it does feel good to complete something for myself and by myself. I have gained a feeling of self-sufficiency and accomplishment that I have not gotten from anything else I have ever done. It might have taken me SEVEN ACTUAL YEARS, but I’m finishing debt free and with a good job in a steady field. I recognize that receiving this higher education is a privilege that fewer and fewer people are able to reach, and while I do have criticisms and might not necessarily believe that college is the end-all be-all for every single person, I do feel grateful that I had the opportunity and means to do this for myself. I didn’t graduate with highest honors, I didn’t get a degree in my *dream* field, but I worked hard and put myself through school while working full time and also juggling my otherwise crazy life. In the time that I started attending college classes I have: gotten engaged, started running, gotten married, bought our first home, bought a new car, ran marathons and ultra marathons, became an aunt, finished the Grand Slam, adopted two rescue bunnies, was elected to the track club board, gained friends, lost friends, I have changed from an insecure, self-conscious, anxiety-ridden girl to a brave, empowered, boss ass woman (who is still occasionally anxiety ridden but has learned lots of good skills on how to cope… PROGRESS!) that knows she can conquer whatever she puts her mind to… I learned so much more than just what it took to finish my classes.
So, here I am. I have changed so much in seven years. I’m a work in progress, but I know who I am and what’s important in this short time we are on earth. Here’s to getting that piece of paper that they say will improve my life so much more. Perhaps they’re right, but I’d say I’ve done pretty well for myself in the meantime. Onward and upward!