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Well, that's it.

For now, at least.



I have come to realize that graduating from college, getting your bachelor's degree, is really only a first step in a series of steps. It's a joyous occasion, true. And something worthy of celebration and praise, sure.

But in the bigger picture, I think this is more like the end of a long initiation, than a culmination. I have seen my fiance graduate from prestigious universities and spend over a year looking for a job, any job. I have seen other friends graduate from middling ol' Boise State University and go straight to internship to paycheck.

I'm pretty sure the college you actually graduate from doesn't mean a damn thing. You weren't just put there to get a degree you can put on your resume that magically gets you a job. What you did outside of class is probably more important.

And me?

Well...it's been a bumpy ride. I'm a little regretful it's over, because I would have liked to end things on a semester I'm proud of.

See, I was supposed to graduate last semester. I had a course load with three amazing high-level classes and three professors I really really liked and three professors I really really liked. And a third class I was very very meh about.

It would have been a lot of work, but not an unreasonable amount. Not at all.

Maybe I was burned out from all the work I did over summer school while simultaneously trying to get in my only grad school application in (that I didn't do on time and basically just gave up on because it felt less stressful than trying to make what seemed like my only shot good enough). So I ended on a low morale note, I guess?

But...basically, I didn't do any school work. I kept up on readings, and quizzes, and class discussions. But papers? Research? Not a one.

And I didn't have a good reason for it. Not once, not ever. And the more you skip, the easier it gets to skip if you feel guilty about it and want to avoid something. And the more work you've left undone, the more anxious I get about all I'd have to do, even when profs were kind and understanding (once I'd finally worked up the nerve to approach them.)

I took two incompletes that semester, and only two classes this semester, so I could work on my unfinished work and turn it all in this semester. Plenty of time. And I still left it all to the last minute, the last weeks. And one of my classes this semester was pretty half-assed too. I should have known better than to take Dr. Dahlquist again, even if I like her as a person.

Even if doing a whole semester's worth of work, for two high-level classes, and somehow managing it all to be pretty good work is something to be proud of.

But with as much as I screwed up this last year, I'm not going to really believe I've graduated until they mail that diploma to me in a couple weeks.

Sure, I passed all those classes. But I failed all those other classes. (Yes, the first number is larger.) When I didn't do my school work, these last two semesters? I never had a good reason for it. Ever.

When I first started fucking up last semester, getting myself into a pit I got too scared to dig myself out of, it...it hurt. I had a self-image of myself as someone who was good at school, and who liked it. It was a real blow, a real wound, to what is admittedly probably my ego. But I still kept wondering what the fuck was wrong with me. This isn't just ADHD, right? And, y'know, the less I did, the more anxious I got about what I had to do. I'd stay up all night because I didn't want to sleep until I'd done some work, but I didn't do any work, so I didn't get any sleep. It was dumb, working myself into a depression like that.

So the last two weeks have been kind of enlightening and refreshing. It was that easy? I could have done that months ago. All I did, basically, was sit down and do all that work. Whether I liked it or not. Whether I thought it was good enough or not (though I tried to make it good enough, in the time limits Mom and I set for myself). Admittedly it took giving someone else control over my internet connection and basically working from 8:30 in the morning to 9:00 at night for that long. But...I'm just as capable of wasting time without the 'net. So there's that.

This is getting rambly and I'm repeating myself. Let's talk about what happens next.

Despite all this, I still want to go to grad school.

Not right away. Oh hell no. But the kinds of things I want to do? Going to need a Master's in Social Work at least, probably. I'd like it at all possible from, say, the University of Baltimore downtown. Though Mom still holds out I should go for nursing, tho' UMB has a good program for that as well. UMBC also has a graduate program for Public Policy that I just noticed, that catches my interest, perhaps. They also do Applied Developmental Psychology, if I decided I wanted to work with kids again after all.

But immediately, I'm going to do a training thing this summer so I can get my Certified Nursing Assistant certification. That's a grunt work kind of job that's always in demand that pays more like 8-12 bucks an hour, so that's a useful skill. I'm also looking to see if I can get a volunteer gig with Americorps. I want something meaningful and useful to do for a while that gets me direct experience doing the kinds of things I want to do, so I can go back and get an education to figure out other ways to do them better from a different angle.

I don't know if I want to help people on an individual or a community level, but that's where it is. That and mental health. Got a little soapbox in my heart about that.

It's a bit of a long road from the kid that looked at Dr. Steinberg (my psychiatrist of many years) and thought, "He has a cool job. I want to do that.", but it's still pretty much the same road, give or take a couple branches.

Guess I'll keep walking it and see where I go next.

Date: 2010-05-21 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paka.livejournal.com
Congrats!

No matter what the actions of this society say about degrees or study, it's a lot of work, and it's an accomplishment. I was never permitted to feel any pride or achievement for myself, I am still working that out, and I want like anything for you to feel good about yourself for doing this, because it's pretty important.

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October 2010

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