Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Graduation--I Made It!

It is official, official--I graduated and I now have a Master of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology. One-hundred five pages of my thesis project in program design proposing a preschool literacy program for a children's hospital setting is done. An executive summary of two pages highlighting the most important elements of my program and oral comps to present my project to a two person panel in the department is complete. With the final edits submitted, I can now say that I have accomplished my academic goal.

It was a lot of hard work and I had spent many long nights reading and writing to get it all done on time. Even though the class is for three credits, it is really six credits worth of work. Plus I was studying and preparing for the Child Life exam in November, which I passed. That was the equivalent of three credits. So, this fall was like going to school full-time, plus I have been working part-time with a temporary job at the children's hospital. Looking back, I don't know how I got it all done. But I am grateful for my friends and family who were patient and supportive as it took away much of my free time.

My mom and dad came into town for my graduation ceremony last week. I am so happy that they were able to come and share in my day. RJ and his parents also attended the event. And when the dean asked family and significant others to stand for recognition of their support, they took their turn. I was so happy to turn around and see their smiling faces.

These past few weeks have been especially emotional for me. As the deadline for my work was due, I waited with bated breath to see if I would really be able to get it all done. I was afraid to admit that I was going to graduate because I was afraid of the "what if's" and I did not want to disappoint myself or anyone else. But I kept working and pushing to get it done and to get it done well. I do not like to do anything half-heartedly.

But my emotions have also spilling over because graduation has a greater significance than just another degree. It is also part of my journey in taking back my life. Pouring myself into school is one thing that I have used to cope with the changes in my life in the midst and after the divorce. It was my chance to invest in myself and to have something good to work towards. And on the days when my mind would start running about what was going to happen to me, grad school allowed me to refocus on the smaller goals and to just take it one day at a time or one class at a time. With every passing assignment and every passing class, it helped to build my confidence.

On the days when it would be really tough, I had a song in the back of my mind urging me to keep going to keep doing my best. I was on my way to moving further and further beyond the heartbreak of my past. I kept telling myself to trust in myself and that everything would be worth it and the fresh start with independence was just around the corner. If I needed some inspiration before settling into writing my paper, I would play this song and remind myself to get back to the business of the task at hand. It is also heavily played on my iPod with the pounding of my feet along the pavement in the cool fall/winter air in those few times that I can squeeze in a run.

It is the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one, which is both terrifying and freeing. During this last semester, especially towards the end as I got closer to finishing, I found there were moments that I could not help but cry. With frustration, I would also ask myself why I am feeling this way? But then in another moment, I would feel on top of the world, proud of myself, and bursting to show the world what I have to give. I should be feeling a more constant happy, but I often feel a mess of everything all at once. It ebbs and flows and in the moments of peace, I try to relax.

I had the school plan in place and now that it is done, I actually have some choices to make. I need to decide where I want to focus my job search. Where do I go from here? It is completely open and I am not entirely sure. I am hoping to steal away a little bit more time so that I can be still for just a moment and listen to my heart. While I do not want to rush, I do not want to miss any opportunities either.

But also, I want to get back to the business of living my life more freely--spending time with the people I care about and enjoying the simple fun in life--slow it down a bit to notice and to take pleasure in what I am thankful to have in my life. But I think what will help get me there are the wise words from one of the speakers at my graduation. She said let your faith be stronger than your fear. Have faith in yourself, have faith in what you are set out to do with accomplishing greatness, and have faith in God that He will lead you.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Jamie! I am proud of you for getting to this point! Good luck in figuring out your next plans. I'm sure whatever you choose, you will do great! Enjoy taking the time to figure it out too.