So just yesterday, I graduated again. This time for my Masters in Social Work and it still feels like it didn’t happen, or more so, I still cannot believe that it’s actually over. I am still waking up in the middle of the night thinking about any other things that I may not have completed, even though I’ve been 100% done with school since April 28th. Barely sleeping four hours the night before, I was already nervous of the day that lied ahead. My day began approximately at 5:15 AM, but I chose to lie in bed and close my eyes until 8:30, for the sake of a tired body. The day before (Thursday) I had gone to my fitness class and my back and legs were still sore from the workout, but I always love waking up knowing I did something beneficial!
Seeing that my refrigerator had nothing but random findings unfit for a “substantial” meal for a T1D, I decided to go my favorite breakfast nook close by–Coffee and Crepes. I even read a chapter of my new book, but knew that I still had other important errands to run before I had to be in the Talley Student Union by 1PM. For example, the crazy-chicken headed person I’ve been since I finished school, has no concept of time anymore it seems. Thus, the procrastinator in me completely forgot until that morning that I still needed to buy those adhesive boobies because there was no way in hell my flat-chested self was going to be crushed by a wire on my lungs. Of course, the place where there’s supposedly everything [[Walmart]] didn’t have them. They stopped selling them? I went into pharmacies thinking they had them. Nope. Target finally had them and luckily they had my [baby] size! Yay, small boobs.
I rushed back home because this girl still had to–or felt the need to–decorate her cap. Though a few of us from my cohort had gotten together that Wednesday for a ‘Cap Decor Party,’ I didn’t do a thing. I absorbed the lovely energy and company of friends I hadn’t spent quality time with and quite honestly, I was again far too brain dead to focus. So here I was, two hours before I had to be in Talley anxiously and carefully doodling something on my cap with my white acrylic marker. I had to include a quote that resonated with me on this journey–maybe not particularly the social work/academic journey, but the personal development journey. So of course, it was by Daughter since their music has been the soundtrack to my life in the past year.
Right at 11:45 AM, my parents were knocking on my door carrying little bags of gifts, a “Congrats Grad!” balloon, and the humblest sense of pride a pair of loving parents could express. I rushed to greet them and hug them, but quickly told them “just give me 15 minutes to finish up my cap and we can talk.” So meanwhile, they changed into the outfits they were going to wear for graduation. This girl still had to shower so I did so quickly without even washing my hair or else it was going to be poofy.
Though I was still nervous [still don’t know why] I actually wasn’t worried of when I would get to Talley. Someone from our Department at first had communicated for all graduates to get there by 1:30, then a few days later, 1 PM. However our Department Facebook page still said 1:30…? I presumed 1:15 would be a safe guess because we would honestly be standing the remainder of the time anyways!
Upon getting to Talley and finding the rest of my cohort and friends, it still felt very surreal to see all of us in our regalia.
This was it.
This was the moment and day we had all been praying to get here so we could finally finish with our assignments, our research, and finish with the frustrating missed communication we had with the Department in general.
It’s just one day later and I think it just began to hit me. This sense of liberty that I am done; that there were so many [useless!] nights where I cried alone or with a friend of the anxiety that was overtaking my mind and mental health [I don’t ever wish that feeling on anyone, it’s awful]; the constant annoyance as people asked, “So, what’s next? Do you have a job yet?!” and not having an answer like some of my friends who had already secured a job, but then again, I am leaving to Chile soon ❤ so I don’t necessarily need a job until mid July-August.
I think the feeling of knowing that I have academically elevated myself with a Masters is a privilege that I usually don’t (or haven’t) always valued for myself. I always knew I wanted to continue my education, but I never knew in what. Being raised with Chilean immigrant parents and seeing the daily significant and insignificant sacrifices they have continuously made for me, has been what has motivated me. So, this Masters is both an honor to my parents and to myself. I know they came to this country searching for the “American Dream,” and though multiple obstacles have been in place and we never bought a home, never bought any property to go vacation somewhere, foolishly never began to save funds for my schooling, to barely affording cars, I don’t regard those struggles as barriers. Everything my family and I haven’t been able to “attain” by cause of these obstacles have not held me back from reaching the goals I placed on myself.
Many times, I have honestly crumbled down (mentally and physically) to the ground, begging to know why some people I know seemed to have life easier for them. Many times I’ve thought:
“Sure, her parents got divorced, but she doesn’t know what it’s like to have to count every dollar since her dad pays all her bills and she gets to travel with no worries? …what?
Oh, his parents started a college fund when he was born [that was smart] but he still worries about having a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle even when he doesn’t have loans to pay back? …really?
Yea, you there, sucking down on that 24 oz smoothie with added sugar…you don’t know how lucky you are that you have a functioning pancreas that breaks down your glucose and you don’t need to mentally keep tabs on the insulin you need to give yourself “
That sounds like a lot of complaining from my end, but I think we all do that. We all compare and contrast what our lives would be IF things were different. Sure, my life would be totally different at this point had most things occurred like I thought ideally. But such is not life. Two years ago, I thought I would be engaged, maybe planning a wedding right now–not going to Chile. I’m very glad things did not turn out that way 🙂 I’m grateful for the hardships, the heartbreak, the lessons, the surreal ‘rejections’ all the while learning that I have never needed the approval/acceptance from others to find it within myself. This journey that began with getting my Masters has been the most rewarding and challenging chapter in my life thus far.
With no idea of where I will be after my return from Chile [other than luckily working with my bad-ass lady bosses from the VACs team in July and part of August], I honestly don’t even know where I will work, or if I’ll have to move. But remembering the wise words of Brené Brown, I will lean into the discomfort–somehow, I have gotten to where I am now and I don’t believe the grace and love of God or the universe will leave me now as I am about to enter the “real world.” Deep down, I know I am not alone as seen in the following pictures below. I wouldn’t have been able to carry on this journey if it hadn’t been for many of these loving people, though many are not pictured.
Our friendship all began as we had lunch and practiced Spanish for her interview. Since then, I have been blessed with her sweet optimism and outlook on life, coffee shop exploring (we need to do that road trip), and homework dates. My soul sister–We just started to get closer in the last month and a half of the semester, but I am so happy to have had the chance to share tears, hugs, victories, secrets, similar if not identical dreams, to almost sharing a birthday with you!
The three Musketeers who practically had all of the same classes this semester. We were research class buddies who would quietly mutter what the point was with “this or that activity [lots of eye rolling too],” but I think it’s easy to say that I wouldn’t have made it these last few weeks without the support and love from these two ladies! “Hey, lemme just pretend like I photobombed you.” [takes picture] “Thank ya, thank ya” [in her British accent]. Another beautiful and loving soul within my cohort.
A sweet and beautiful friend who has shared in my Hispanic roots. I will never forget the simple joy of being able to utter words of frustration and praise in Spanish, as well as receiving hugs from you! ❤ After our travels, we need to have coffee dates!