May 27, 2015

Perseverance is Everything

Last week was a complete and utter whirlwind. So much happened in the span of two days. I was feeling really emotional about all of it, but I’m better to the point that I can blog about it. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I graduated last week. Even typing that sentence requires me to pause and re-read it a few times.

I graduated.

After 12 years of studying, fighting, struggling… I am finally finished.

When I graduated high school I went straight to community college with a plan to transfer to SUNY Binghamton, my dream {no idea why} college. I was majoring in Psychology and loved every minute of it. With only 3 semesters to go, I dropped out. I wish I could kick my 19 year old self’s ass, but it’s water under the bridge. Life was happening and I was pretty much just tagging along. Too much partying, too many dumb choices.

I’ve always needed to finish school. It’s a desire and a goal I’ve had all this time. Not graduating wasn’t an option. Shortly after I moved to NJ I tried online classes… twice. It didn’t work. I need to be in a classroom. I need to take actual notes. I need to have the structure of a traditional classroom, even if I was scrolling through Twitter.

While pursuing my Associate’s I made the honors list during a semester where I was going to class full time while working both a full-time and part-time job. I didn’t grasp the importance of it. When I graduated with my 2-year degree in May 2012, it didn’t really affect me. Sure I was proud of myself, but I knew this wasn’t the end goal.

I immediately transferred to Montclair and started that fall. I felt like I was starting all over again. 2 more years was such a long time. Every semester brought it’s own source of drama – dropped classes; losing my sister; hard-ass professors; transportation problems; job changes; schedule changes… I dealt with it all.

Even back in December when I handed in final papers and exams, it didn’t hit me. Not having to register for the spring semester was more of a relief than an eye-opening moment. When I received my degree and certificate in the mail, it was nice but it didn’t phase me.

Last week I participated in convocation and commencement exercises. I was a mess. My parents came down Tuesday for the convocation ceremony where my college {Humanities and Social Sciences} had the names of each graduate read while they crossed the stage. Standing in line, waiting until we all made our march out onto the field, it took everything I had not to burst into tears. It was finally real. That night I cried myself to sleep.

Wednesday night was the formal commencement ceremony and while I stood in line in the basement of the Prudential Center, again, I did everything I could not to start crying. I didn’t hold my tears because I was embarrassed, I held them because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to stop.

Even writing this now, my eyes are filling. The emotions are overwhelming. This is something I’ve worked so, so long and hard for. To finally have made this achievement is indescribable. 

I am a graduate.

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