19 December 2008

School's out forever

This is going to be a long post so I’ll apologize in advance but this has been a long time coming. I initially started writing it two days ago when I put up my last entry. I started but I had to stop. You will understand why shortly. First, the big news: I GOT MY MASTER’S DEGREE. I repeat: I GOT MY MASTER’S DEGREE. Once more, for effect: I. GOT. MY. MASTER’S. DEGREE. Let’s pause until that sinks in.

… … …

Finished. Done. Three years in the making. Three. Years. It shouldn’t have taken that long. In the process of getting my masters degree I unearthed some character flaws that I still have not been able to fully sort out. There were times during this whole ordeal when I questioned whether or not I had the ability to see it through. That is honestly something I never in my wildest dreams would have considered before I started it. I simply knew that I had what it took to do it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand why this was so difficult to me. Not just difficult, embarrassing. Really! When I first started this blog it was in large part because I wanted a place to vent my frustrations (mostly at myself) about my inability to complete my master’s degree. Then it honestly became something that I was too self-conscious about. I felt that it reflected very poorly upon me and exposed flaws that I didn’t want people to know about. I felt like part of me regressed to the way I was when I started college and I wouldn’t let anyone within arm’s length (emotionally) because I didn’t want people to see any of my vulnerabilities. I was just a typical snarling punk kid wearing a leather jacket and t-shirts with expletives. I really didn’t like that person and I made a conscious decision to change who I was. This was, to me at least, a partial regression to Apollo v 0.9- a rawer, less amicable version of the current user-friendly* you see before you. I’m still working on the EULA. No GUI puns, please.

Most of my friends probably didn’t know I was still working on it unless they explicitly asked about it even though it was constantly on my mind. My Dad took to asking me about it a lot which meant I took to snapping at my Dad a lot because it was a sensitive subject and it was NONE OF HIS GOD DAMNED BUSINE- sorry, sorry, still haven’t flushed it all out yet I guess.

Truthfully I don’t think it has completely sunk in yet. The reason that I stopped writing this post the other day was because although all of the work had been turned in and it was completely out of my hands and almost entirely assured, I didn’t want to jinx it by jumping the gun. The graduation ceremony was earlier today down in Auburn and I wasn’t there to walk across the stage and receive my diploma. When I first started graduate school I told myself that I’d walk across that stage every damn time I got a degree because I had earned it. I think that part of the reason I wasn’t there today is because I’m still not sure I actually earned the degree. Don’t get me wrong I did a lot of work and definitely put in my time but part of me feels like I cut some corners in places, whether it’s true or not, and I don’t like that feeling one bit. Hopefully it will fade with time. I’ve gotten really good at telling the story in a way that takes the majority of the blame for the amount of time it took off of my shoulders. It might even be true. I just don’t know if I believe it. I do believe that the things I’ve been through the last three years have completely changed my life plans. I never planned on 1- Living in Huntsville 2- Being done with school at 25 or 3- Driving fancy cars to all the bars and hanging out with the biggest stars. Okay that last one still might not be true. What is true is that I started college with the intention of going straight through until I finished my doctorate and that obviously is not how things worked out.

There is a lot more that I could say about this but I think I’ll stop there. I feel like all of this crap is taking away from what should be a rather auspicious occasion and I don’t want it to. Since I found out that it was official I’ve been having alternating fits of joy and crippling self-doubt. It’s like I just lost my virginity all over again.

Anyway, this is probably what you've been waiting for. Who am I not to deliver the goods?

* Some of you may be laughing at this. I will smite you.


Sarah, etc. said...

Motherfucking WORD. Reading this makes me want to write about my own experience. Because wow, did getting a master's degree change how I looked at everything.

I'm coming up on the 9th anniversary of deciding not to quit. It was Christmas eve, and we were back at my parents house, sleeping in my childhood bed. And I had a total breakdown, but very, very quietly so that only Christopher heard me coming unhinged. I hated it, hated the work, hated the way I didn't fit in, hated the fact that I couldn't do the research I wanted to do.

And I still don't remember much except that Christopher said, "It's okay to quit if you know it's not what you want to do." And then I decided that I could get through three more semesters. And I did. And didn't walk across the stage, either, even though I was fascinated with the fancy robes. I just woke up that morning and I think we had beer for breakfast and played video games.

I was going to go straight through, too, from diploma to PhD. And along the way learned as much about what I really want and what I'm really good at as I did about mid-20th century cultural history. I'm really starting to second guess myself lately, thinking it would totally not be a bummer thing to try for a PhD (although not in American Studies!). I have to slap myself really hard sometimes.

And last but not least: CONGRATULATIONS! You kicked ass! Some day you'll have to let me buy you a margarita, which I was taught is the drink of choice for those just vested with a Master's.

Apollo said...

It makes me feel better knowing that I wasn't the only one who almost went mad finishing a degree. I still have plans of getting my PhD, it just won't be for at least a few years, I think.

Also, hells yeah margarita.