Friday, May 16, 2014

Closure (Let it Go)

Song of the Day: Demi Lovato - Let It Go  ...yes, this song is everywhere, but it's so fitting :)

It's been quite a while since I've written a post!  I have been so busy with this semester that it just got away from me!  So time for a little update!

1.  I got into grad school!  Yay!!  I also stress ate my way through the entire process (which I'll probably start writing about again soon!), but I'm in!  I'm really excited about this next step in my education, and I'm excited to get to know the rest of my cohort!

2.  I don't know if I wrote about it on here, but as part of my graduation requirements I had to do a independent study/capstone that involved a literature review paper and presentation.  Yesterday I gave my presentation, and it went great!  I was so nervous (of course), but I realized just how far I've come in my presenting and writing abilities, and how much I've learned!  I've learned so much these past few years and it was great to present in front of professors that I've really gotten to know, and show them what I'm capable of.  I had an advisor for the independent study, and she helped me a lot with sorting through my ideas, and polishing my paper, but I really did it by myself.  There were many days when my lack of motivation lead me to spending the day on Netflix, but I still finished strong.  The Nelson Mandela quote "It always seems impossible until it's done" is a very fitting way to describe this experience :)

3.  I graduate tomorrow!!!  I can't believe it's finally here!  10 years ago I graduated from high school - went to college - left college - and was never really sure when I'd be back.  I knew I wanted to finish my degree, but I didn't really have a plan of when that would happen.  I have seen a lot of Facebook status' about "last day of undergrad ______ (classes, exams, etc)" and I wanted to post one, but I just have so many emotions tied to this past week, that I didn't know how to express what it really means to me in a Facebook update.  And that almost seemed to cheapen my experience to write it that way.  So, here's the longer version.

Dropping out of college back in 2006 was definitely the right decision for me.  I went through a super rough patch in my life, and thankfully made it through to the other side with little damage.  If I hadn't dropped out, I would have never moved back to La Crosse, gotten in touch with old friends, and met Kyle.  We would have never gotten married, or had our two wonderful kids.  Who knows where I'd be right now.  I know it was the right thing, and I love my life, but that doesn't mean that I look back on me dropping out as a pleasant thing.  I've spent the last 8 years thinking of myself as, for lack of a better term, a fuck-up.  In the past few years I've accomplished things that have lessened the degree to which I think that - because really, I'm a pretty well adjusted functioning adult - but I've always held not finishing college over my head, like an example of my shortcomings; my failure to live up to my potential.  So back in the summer of 2011, I went back to finish what I had started, and I'm finally done.

When people congratulate me for finishing, I tend to brush it off and say, "Thanks!  Finally!" or "Thanks! I'm excited, but I'm starting grad school, so I'm far from done!"  I mean, yes finally, and yes I'm starting grad school, but really, I just don't want to start crying if I really tell them, "Thank you, this really means so much to me, and I'm really proud of myself for going back to school and finishing my degree."  I'm crying now just writing this, and I'm not even saying it out loud.  Finishing my undergrad is not about how great it was that I decided to go back to school even though I have kids, a husband, and responsibilities.  Yes, that made things more complicated, but there are always other things in your life, and I learned to prioritize and really be present whether with my family or in class.  Finishing my undergrad means so much more to me than a stepping stone in my education/career.  It's proving to myself that those two years were a fluke, that's not who I am, and it doesn't define me.  It's finally quieting the internal voice that reminds me of my shortcomings, and makes me feel like I need to justify my intelligence and worth, because I didn't finish college "the right way," whatever that even means.  Most of all, it's closure.  Closure on all of the feelings I have about the poor decisions I made.  It's finally putting the last piece in the puzzle to complete this part of my life.  With time and hard work, everything really did turn out all right, and I couldn't be happier with where I am in my life right now.  I feel like I am right where I'm supposed to be, even if this peace only lasts until everyone else wakes up :)

I'm excited to see where these next few years of grad school take me, not only in my education, but also as a person.  Having closure on these old emotional wounds is empowering, and I feel ready to take on the next task!  Which right now, is finding a dress for the commencement ceremony. :)

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