I had my last class tonight and even though it was literally just a pizza party, it was my last official class meeting of the semester. I had a presentation yesterday as well as a 15-page paper that I turned in earlier this week after I met with a professor as part of my final. All wrapped up now, I am able to reflect on it and start to process it.
There is so much more to process the more I think about it. First, I have to go back to my undergrad degree. I am the first person in my family to get a bachelor’s degree. I didn’t even realize that was significant until people started talking about that as a responsibility and a part of their identity and I was thinking “Hey, that’s me!” Growing up in an upper-class white town, my assumption was that most people had college degrees and their kids were going to go to college and get them, too. When I come to find out that only 30-some percent of people have a bachelor’s degree, I am wildly surprised. I don’t know the percentage for master’s degrees, but I know it’s smaller.
What kind of weight comes with a degree? My age really dampened the accomplishment. My mother got an associate’s when I was a kid and I remember what a big deal that was for her and for us to see her do it. Then I got my associate’s when I was 30, and then two more after that, rounding out my undergrad education by finally getting my bachelor’s degree when I was 39, with the sole purpose of getting into grad school so I could become a therapist.
Now, my first semester of grad school is over. Three classes down, Twelve to go. This semester was definitely one to remember and while everyone’s caseload is different, most of my other classmates were in their first semester, too, and I will be seeing a lot of them throughout the program. I made some new friends and I hope to stoke those relationships and keep them burning throughout and beyond. Outside of the people I have met who all share a specific interest with me, I learned some things in my classes, too, and not just in a textbook/discussion sort of way.
Turns out I’m good at this. I went into this program with some confidence between my podcast and my own therapy. I never thought I would be the person that sticks out and warrants comments from professors. Everyone was very impressed with me and surprised by my “natural talent” for the job. I went into this program excited to have my beliefs challenged, but I didn’t expect them to be confirmed. I am learning to be comfortable with confidence for the first time in my life and I think it’s because it’s real confidence and it’s based on my own talents, abilities, and hard work. It’s not based on some surface-level vanity from external validation. It feels good and I am learning that I can be confident without being cocky and that is a good lesson for me to learn.
Finally, I am learning to be proud of myself for everything I have mentioned thus far. I am an impressive person and I have completed a lot. I also get a lot done. I have learned discipline and sacrifice. I have identified my values and shaped my being into what I want it to be for the very first time in my life and since I started doing that, each new person I meet sees it in a way that people I have known my whole life don’t see. It feels good and I feel new connections that were not possible and all of that is due to the work that I have done. I deserve the credit for being this person and I worked hard to become this person and I really love this person and it’s because of that, I am receiving love from others.
I am proud. I am grateful. I am awesome. I am happy.
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