Friday, December 11, 2009

Listless

My goodness.  I'm speechless, but not for lack of stuff to talk about.  I feel like I have so much to say that I can't decide what to say right now and what to wait to say later.  Do you ever feel like that?  I have before, to lesser degrees, but not like this.  I've been sitting with this "New Post" window open as I go around checking other blogs for about the last hour.  So, here goes and for probably the first time, I'm not sure how this is going to go.  It'll likely sound like rambling.

I'm feeling so listless.  My last final was yesterday morning at 8am.  I was done by 9:15am.  When I walked out of the classroom, I felt so... relieved.  I know I was smiling, half out of sheer exhaustion, half from a feeling of exuberance at what it truly meant to turn in that blue book and walk away.  It means I'm a college graduate.  I have to wait for my grades to come in, of course, but I'm done.  That's worth smiling about if you ask me.  I don't really know how other people deal with being done with something this huge, but for me, it's been years in the making.  Years of feeling like if I just kept pushing a few more steps everything would come together, only to find out there was more than a few more steps.  I've been going to college on and off since 1996. Even when I finally buckled down, when I finally decided college really was for me, it took me 6 years to get where I am right now.

When I went back to school six years ago, going to college seriously rather than just blowing it off like I always had, I was planning to get an AA in Paralegal studies from a McLennan Community College in Waco.  I felt, at that point, like it was a good choice.  My mom's a paralegal, she's damn good at it, and she taught me a lot of what she knows.  I enjoyed the work, though I hated seeing the clients (I am so, so not a people person), and thought it would be something I could do.  Then I realized, quite suddenly, that I wanted more.  I was almost one year into the two year program when I decided to shoot for a Bachelor's degree.  But what did I have?  A lot of sporadic credits, that's what, and nothing that added up to much.

I think when I finally got around to applying to Tarleton, in the spring of 2004, I had about 35 credits in total.  That's not much at all, in the grand scheme of things.  At that point, I thought it was a lot more than it turned out to be.  Ultimately, of those 35 credits, about half would transfer and count for something.  All those 35 credits were good for, in the long run, was getting my foot in the door at Tarleton where you need 30 hours of course work to qualify as an undergraduate transfer students.  You also need a 2.0 GPA, which I easily had.  Undergrad transfers don't have to have SAT or ACT scores, which I don't have, they just have to have college credits, a diploma/GED, and the ACCUPLACER or TAAS.  It worked out since I had previously taken the ACCUPLACER.

I came to Tarleton in the Fall 2004 semester; it's taken me five years to finish my degree.  I took one year off, a year where I thought for sure that I was never going back to school, that I was just moving on.  I did end up making the choice to go back, when I realized that my exhaustion was nothing more than a hefty dose of burnout, coupled with the fact that 30 was creeping up on me.  It was my goal, initially, to finish my undergraduate degree by the time I turned 30.  Taking that year off made that impossible.  I'm 31 years old, so I'm only a little off that mark.  I can honestly say that coming to Tarleton has been one of the absolute best choices I've ever made.

My parents are proud of me, which means more than I can really say here.  I made a very good friend here, a life long friend, which is something that means a lot to a person who doesn't make friends easily, let along good friends.  Kindred spirits don't come along that often, I've met a few, but I can count those on one hand.  I've also had some unbelievably warm and encouraging professors who helped me along the way, some more than they could ever know.  My undergraduate adviser is one of the most awesome people I know.  The whole experience, overall, has made me so much more fulfilled and well-rounded.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Now, I'm done.  I'm not an undergraduate any more and I'm a little sad.  I don't handle changes very well, which could be part of the reason that it actually took me so long to finish my BA.  My mom calls it the end of an era and she's right.  This is huge for me, and I'm scared to move forward.  I'm also very happy and excited.  When I graduated from high school I was so thrilled, I never wanted to see the high school again, then I fell into something of a depression at having been thrust into adulthood.  I couldn't handle it and I cried, a lot.  To my credit, I haven't cried yet.  I might when I see my degree, but for now I'm okay.  No, wait, I did cry, but that was at the beginning of the semester.  Every time I saw or heard anything about graduating, I burst into tears.  I haven't done that in a long time, at least not about school, so I think I'm alright.

Of course, now I'm trying to get focused to move forward and take on graduate school.  I'm only taking six credits the first semester, which should help me transition into life as a graduate school.  Then, I'll tackle grad school with a maximum load in the Fall 2010 semester.  I'm ready.  I know what I want to do for my thesis (almost 100% sure, though I've had some other opportunities crop up recently that I need to consider).  I have the graduate reading list and will start reading from it soon.  I feel like though I'm scared, I'm fortunate to be able to do this.

I've gotten a few of my grades in so far.  I made a B in my grad class, which I think is pretty good for having still been an undergrad.  Also, the professor who taught it is a tough professor.  Otherwise, and this one was a pleasant surprise, I made a B in Geology!  Looks like all that work I did studying my ass off for the Geology exams paid off.  Am I happy with myself?  Yes, yes I am.  Now, I'm just waiting for my two history class grades to come in, which probably won't be until Monday or Tuesday.  Essay tests always take a bit more time to grade.  I think I did well enough to make a B in each of those classes, so I'm looking at a semester GPA of 3.0!  Not bad for a semester I was sure was going to be terrible, in which I just slid by with the minimum possible grade.

So, now that I've rambled on and on, I think I'm going to go.  I'm still feeling really listless, I had so much to do for so long that to all of the sudden have nothing, it's a bit dizzying.  Maybe I'll pick up a book.  I've slept 15 hours of the last 22.  Of course, now I'm sleepy for over sleeping, but I think I needed it... no, I definitely needed it.  If you got through all that, thank you, I know it was longer than I usually ramble on.  Now, I'm off to go be listless doing something else.