Monday, May 2, 2011

A long time coming

I was miserable. I was sitting in what was possibly the most uncomfortable chair in the history of chairs. Sweating through my black gown, the sun baking my face, I thought I might pass out. I really wished I’d said fuck it and carried a water bottle. The guy behind me was moaning as his hangover kicked in and I threatened him with bodily harm should the back of my gown be decorated with the churning contents of his stomach.

Yet it was one of the happiest moments of my life thus far.

Out of high school, I’d taken a different path than most of my friends; I never expected to finally be there, accepting that symbol of years of hard work and accomplishment.

Now there I was, baking in the Greek Theater, 9 years wiser, the proud owner of two Associate’s degrees, and finally at the last door to that club called the Bachelor’s.

To say it hadn’t been easy is is a huge trivialization. There is a reason people go to college when they’re eighteen. That’s when you have the energy to study and work and maintain decent grades and some semblance of a social life.

Yet I had powered through, worked several jobs to pay my rent, and took out enough loans that I probably won’t pay them off until I die.

I’d absorbed inhuman amounts of knowledge, slogged through hundreds of novels, wrote thousands of words, delighted and detested Faulkner as he plagued me through my honor’s thesis, and forgot what the word sleep meant.

I was the eldest in my study abroad program, but I came home richer in wisdom and having something akin to fluency in French.

I’d driven myself slave-like for two and a half years and somehow sustained a 4.0 and a love of the written word, not to mention invaluable friendships with both professors and peers.

At last the time came for the Literature majors to stand and march across the stage. Hearing my best friends cheer for me as I accepted my fake diploma, I was particularly careful to smile for the camera as I inwardly laughed.

I dawdled on the stage, hugging each of my professors, and thus reaching the stairs at the same time as the girl after me. After her, I was too excited to pay attention to silly things like rails and tripped a bit down the stairs. Catching myself before a most embarrassing and potentially painful fall, I recovered like a champ.

Hours later, after the turning of the tassels, it truly sunk in. Yes, walking across that stage was symbolic. Yes, that diploma in my hand was fake and my real diploma would arrive later in the mail. I’d actually finished after my last final exam. I’d really achieved my degree after my professors had posted my final grades. But it hadn’t felt real until wearing that gown and motor board, shaking hands with the president of the university, turning my white tassel.

I was a graduate.


This was a post for the RemembeRED prompt: Tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in your life that you are proud of.

I was happiest to have water.
Bonus photo (so you can see how sunburned I got that day).
 

16 comments mean you love me:

Suniverse said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You continue to amaze me.

I love that you are so fantastic and so accomplished and still so KIND and wonderful.

Congratulations on finishing something that gave you such a great memory. You should be proud. I am.

amydpp said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great story. Like you I didn't do the 18 and college thing either. That degree was as sweet at 30 as it would have been at 22.

Rock on.

Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It is a great feeling of accomplishment! Done the hungover certificate ceremony bit as well... and it is always on a sunny, warm, dehydrating day...

Kelley said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What an amazing journey! Fluent in French, too? That is impressive. Congratulations!!

Liz said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Are you burned above your eyebrows?! :)

Rock on, darlin!

alonewithcats said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

While cleaning recently, I came across my college diploma in my closet. It was sandwiched inside a vacuum manual. But it's nice to know its there.

Logical Libby said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Not only are you a graduate, but you know what it really means.

And those robes are a special kind of hell.

Skye said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Yay for you! I went to college right after high school and I have so much respect for people who go later- even if it's just a few years, it seems so much harder.

It rained on my graduation day. We had a tent, but the floor was mud. They handed us our real diplomas on stage, and the girl in front of me dropped hers in the mud! I still feel bad for her when I think about it. I hope they printed her another one.

MrsJenB said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Before I read your caption I was like "Whoa, she got burned!" ;)

You so fully deserve to be proud after all that hard work!

Ashley said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I can't wait to have this same feeling! Good job girlie! You did it!

NatureGirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Awesome! Good for you. I tripped off to college at 18 like everyone else and finished 4 years up and had a blast, but fell a little short of graduation. Life took some twists and turns and it took until I was 38 to finish up that degree (in Literature coincidentally). I know how you feel... What an accomplishment!

Jackie said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sounds like your path may have been a little rocky, but amazing none the same! Congrats to the BA!

Mel~ @ Lifestwistedstitches.com said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

WooHoo! What a tremendous feat, with a 4.0 as well!!!! You ROCK!

Jenna said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

congratulations on your accomplishment, and yes it is certainly something to crow about!!!

MamaRobinJ said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Nice work! Looks like you had a great time celebrating.

I know that feeling of sitting there and feeling awful. I was 7 weeks pregnant at my MA convocation and I seriously thought I was going to have to climb over people so I could get out and throw up.

Visiting from TRDC

Yuliya said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sorry I am so late, congratulations on a job well done, you SHOULD be proud!

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