Friday, September 19, 2014

what i learned about myself from a piece of paper

 photo Diploma1_zps30394073.jpg

I never knew a piece of paper would make feel all of the feels. There were times I never thought I would hold this piece of high-quality cardstock {at least I hope they splurged on the good stuff considering what I paid for it}. A master's degree. A Master of Science in Education and Health Sciences.

When I went to college, it was expected that four years later I would hold a similar piece of cardstock. And I did, and it was awesome. In fact, it was so awesome that I went back and did again. I'm what the higher education biz likes to call a lifelong learner {though I'm pretty sure Shawn will divorce me if I go back for any more degrees any time soon}. But it wasn't expected that I would get a master's degree. So this piece of cardstock is extra special - not just because it means that I have mastered but because it also means that I have conquered moments of doubts and survived personal sacrifices.

This piece of cardstock is a reminder of all the things I learned about myself while I juggled working full time, going to grad school part time, coaching high school cheerleading, doing an internship and attempting to have a social life all at the same time.

I learned that I never want to do that again. I spent the majority of the last three years just trying to keep my head above water, and exhausted, yet unable to slow down or sleep. Oh so many sleepless nights, worrying about all the things I didn't get done that day.

I learned, and truly appreciated, the value of the pep talk. So many pep talks took place inside this dome piece of mine during the last three years. Always encouraging myself to keep going, to take it one class at a time, and to find the light at the end of the tunnel even when it was dim.

I learned that I have a limit, and sometimes I have to make tough decisions to maintain my sanity and happiness. I am a people pleaser. I hate disappointing others and myself. But I found that I do have a breaking point. And it's not very pretty, but it's necessary.

I learned that some of the best therapy is crying to my mom on the phone.

I learned that I am insistent and persistent. I am the type of person who finishes what I start, even when it seems impossible, I will find a way to make it happen. There were a lot of moments of self doubt and wondering whether I had made the right decision to go back to school. When I pay my grad school loan each month, I still wonder. But the answer is always the same - yes, I did. My grad school program changed my perspective of myself and others, it made me more curious about the world and people, it made me more understanding and patient - it changed my life for the better. And, here comes a giant cliche, I wouldn't change that for anything. Mean it.

I learned why I didn't give up. For that photo op up there. Because the moment I held that piece of paper, I knew that I had won. And I like winning. But more than that, I freakin' did it. I overcame my self doubt and sacrifices. I survived three years of the most obnoxious schedule I had kept in my entire life. I struggled and kept going.

So this isn't just a piece of paper. It's a very special piece of cardstock. And it will always be a reminder of a time in my life when I never gave up.


Kayla MKOY said...

Oh my word! So stinking proud of you!!!! What an amazing accomplishment, Holly! It's funny because I'm going back just to finish a Bachelors next year and I'm terrified because I'm already so busy. You give me some hope that I'll be okay ;)

Madeline Mihaly said...

Huge congratulations! I'm struggling to get through my last semester of undergrad and I can't even imagine graduate work. Happy weekend & celebrating :)

xo, Maddy

Shybiker said...

Post-grad education is hard work because, as you explain, it has to be accomplished in the context of a busy life with competing demands. Your achievement is major and should be a source of pride for you. Plus, you'll reap benefits for the rest of your life from it. Congrats!

Because of Jackie said...

I feel the same way about my Master's Degree! I earned it while home with two kids, often doing online classes while they cried in their cribs. I earned that sucker class by class, and it took me almost six years! I found that I CAN do anything I put my mind to, and that I really do love the end result of all my hard work. Congrats to you, friend!

Ashley @ A Cute Angle said...

Congratulations! It all paid off. What a super exciting accomplishment?

~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

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