I’m wholeheartedly convinced that most people don’t understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into getting a PhD. For some it’s an easy process and for others it’s long and exhaustive. I first started at the tender age of 22 and I am nearing the finish line 5 years later. It’s been a series of rejections one one after the other. I once went back and counted and for just one phase of my dissertation I submitted revisions 39 times. It was crazy. I even had to change my topic which set me back as well. But I feel motivated to push forward and to remember why I started. I’m ready to transition into something different and possibly more fulfilling. I want to be free and I want something that allows me the flexibility to live wherever I want. Life goals.
I’m not exactly a fan of change. I’m not against it because I know that I don’t have a choice and that it will happen regardless of what I think or feel. However, it’s often not a comfortable or pleasant experience. There’s frequently quoted prayer about changing the things we can’t accept and accepting the things we can’t change. I’ve learned that there are some things that we can definitely change about ourselves. While we can’t always change our environments and move away, sometimes a change in mindset makes all the difference. About a six weeks ago I decided to change course a bit and pursue something that I had never tried before. Despite the fact that I don’t care for change, I usually like having new experiences when the trepidation wears off. Feeling like you don’t have any control is one of the quickest ways to start acting irrationally. I learned this quickly in my work with others. The more options available, the more people feel as if their words are important–even if they aren’t. This new endeavor is by far something that I’m not used to. However, I know without a doubt that I’ll regret it for a significant period time if I don’t push forward and go after it. I’ve never quite agreed with the “one size fits all” mentality and despite the initial discomfort associated with the unfamiliar, I know that it’s the right decision to make. The pros and cons have been weighed and ironically things have started to line up in a way I didn’t expect since deciding on this new course of action. In some circles people would call that confirmation. I have analyzed and overanalyzed and yet the same course of action still presents as the most logical direction to go. I’ve learned that there are some things I can’t change and some things that I can. And now it’s time to make one of those “change-able” changes.
It’s funny how fast time really flies despite the fact that it often seems that it is just creeping by. With all the graduations that go on in the month of May, I must admit that I felt a bit nostalgic as I thought about the few times that I’ve graduated from some program. However, today is semi-different as it marks four years since I graduated from college. The funny thing is that May 28th wasn’t the original date that was supposed to happen. Living in Alabama, severe weather usually occurred during tornado season. That year, there was a tornado that came through parts of North Alabama with some disastrous results. I remember my last class in undergrad (didn’t know it at the time) and how somehow it just felt so final. Around the time of finals a huge storm came through and left thousands (including me) without power. I must admit that living without electricity isn’t something that I particularly enjoy doing. A phone call made with my rapidly dying cell phone to my parents confirmed that they were enjoying 21st century living with hot water and electricity as the storm had missed them. Gas pumps weren’t working but thankfully I had a full tank of gas and slowly made my way to my parents house around downed power lines and hundreds of non-working stoplights. But I digress. Needless to say graduation was canceled (postponed) for two weeks. I remember the anticipation that led up to the day. It was the culmination of a LOT of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears. One thing that was reassuring was that I had a plan of what I was doing afterwards. I remember how hot the robe was and trying to concentrate as I marched so that I didn’t trip and fall. It was a very very long day that started around 6 in the morning and ended at 3am the next morning, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I saw so many family members and celebrated with them. I had my name announced all over the arena and got the diploma holder that represented almost $100,000 in money spent for education and the hope that this degree would ensure that I didn’t live in poverty for the next 5 decades. Reminiscing is great, but the real question is what has been accomplished since then? That’s a sobering thought.
This year has been by far one of the most active years of my life. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my goals this year was to travel a lot and I was so incredibly blessed to be able to accomplish that. Doing five weekend trip in six weekends and then going on several other trip that included an overseas trip to Spain and France was a wonderful experience. I’m on my last trip of the year right now and I’m happy for the chance to end the year and start the year with trips. As a result, I once again didn’t buy furniture this year. And I’m ok with that. I’ve learned the importance of rolling with the punches. Life doesn’t always turn out how we expect it to and we are sometimes forced to make readjustments. I’ve had to become more independent and to make more decisions that affected my life in a huge way. The great thing is that it forced me to be more deliberate in my choices and mindful of long term consequences. I had some “I love my life” moments along with “I hate my life” moments. I remember someone telling me that when we add up our highs and our lows they end up balancing out. This was the case this year. It’s funny how we don’t really recognize ourselves changing on a daily basis but we see it when we look back over a period of time. I’ve had some good moments this year and I’m looking forward to 2015.