I finally did it - first in my family. I graduated from college, summa cum laude no less!
It was an overly hot day (who thought it was a good idea to make graduation gowns black and out of polyester), but it was still an insanely happy moment. *looks around* Did I admit that?
I won't lie - when I saw my graduation photos I realized quite fully how much I ignored my body the last year. An overloaded schedule, plus summer school and a program that is very hard on the female body (more on that later) absolutely took its toll. Truly, I knew I was gaining weight. It has been over a year since I could wear my good jeans, after all. But I just couldn't think about that. I had research to finish, student work hours, a crushing reading load and writing, writing, writing to do. When I could I squeezed in a moment to myself and attended a few events. All in all, I was a busy woman and in the end, a pretty accomplished one. I was nominated for, although I didn't win, the dean's award. I didn't tell anyone in my program about that, nor did I tell anyone that I was graduating with highest honors. When they called my name as an award nominee, everyone in my program just cheered. When I stood up for honors they went nuts and I could hear my family and friends behind me hooting and hollering. As much as I tried to be casual about it, truly, I was bursting.
I double majored in psychology and women's studies - and it is the later that was so very hard on the female body. Those classes were hands down the most academically challenging courses and the most eye-opening. It is a bit of a misnomer, really, as I studied all 'marginalized' groups, which is really - almost all of us in one way or another, but certainly all women because no matter your class, religion, education or other status, women are disadvantaged world-wide. Semester after semester of learning and researching about how women are impacted by lowered wages, institutionalized bias, discrimination and deprivation throughout history, body issues pedaled through all forms of media and swallowed and spread by society, religious oppression, disadvantage in marriage and divorce, genocide, domestic violence and murder, rape and mutilation in civilian and military situations, and the list goes on began to truly take a toll on me. Once my class load was over full-time, I think I broke down a bit. I tried on more than one occasion to see a counselor at the university, particularly after I volunteered on a crisis hotline and later at a women's health clinic - but the university system is so impacted that I was never able to be seen. So, I muddled through. Hubby has been without work for a while now so I had/have no medical insurance so that was not an option. I had one or two panic attacks, and my weight loss nearly disappeared - after all that hard work.
But I haven't 'lost' everything.. I lost shame. I knew what was happening and I tried to do better, but I failed. What I do have is regret, and I am back working at it. And, I have all the knowledge that I gained the last time around. I'm not worried that I will fail, because I know this is just another step in the journey. So now, the focus is back on me.
One day, I do hope to learn how to juggle better.
The latest update is I'm putting off getting into a grad program for a year. I've been accepted to the one grad program I have applied for, but I've put it on hold. I need time to investigate other schools, and frankly to be ready. A friend who is finishing her program said to me (as she was writing her thesis) "Grad school is the process of researching and working to death some subject you love, until you absolutely detest it." That is how I will feel if I start to soon and don't get a break. So, I will find some contract or part-time work, do some of my own research, and focus on ME for a while. AND, next spring I should be in Italy, as my graduation present from a friend. How cool is that??
SPaRk PeEPs ... I missed you all!!!!
I am looking forward to the enthusiasm, the complaining (laugh) and taking the trip with you all again.