Close to two years ago, I went back to college to complete my long-delayed Bachelor’s degree. It was exciting, challenging, illuminating, and freaking exhausting. In one of my first meetings with my advisor, due to some miscalculation, he put a very ambitious graduation date in my head – Spring 14. It really should have been Spring 15. Yet, once I got that first date in my head, I made up my mind that was what I was going to do. I took advantage of the alternative ways of gaining credit for life experience. I went to Summer School. Some semesters, I took nine units instead of a much more reasonable six.
And I made it. I graduated in May, walking alongside a group of women whom I considered comrades in the Dominican trenches. The next day I celebrated surrounded by friends from all decades and corners of my life. It was fucking glorious. The day after, I left for a week-long silent meditation retreat where I spent most of my time just gazing at the tall grasses as danced in the breeze and fell in love with the antics of these little yellow birds. I was too exhausted to even meditate, and that was OK. It was the temporary cessation of deadline stress, which I so needed.
This lasted maybe a month or so, pretending there was nothing over my head. However, there still was. I had taken an “In Progress” on my Senior Thesis and it was due August 1. Of course, being the procrastinator that I am, I didn’t start work in earnest on it until about two weeks ago (though parts of it were already written). The writing of it wasn’t too difficult. For the most part, it flowed. However, it is somewhat unconventional as far as Senior theses go. I submitted my draft to my bodhisattva-like advisor and nervously awaited her critique. She loved it. My final draft was submitted a week later. I made the suggestion minor tweaks, and voila! my Senior Thesis was finished.
Unlike other papers, turning this is was a more formal affair, with forms to be filled out and papers to be signed. Today, I dropped by my advisor’s house for her signature. “You’re done. That’s it. It’s over”, she grinned and raised her arms high in the air in preparation for a huge hug. I stood there looking confused, so she just went ahead and embraced me. Even after the hug, I still looked like I was completely lost. “Graduation is both a celebration and a loss. It’s a new beginning, but it is also an ending. It’s natural to grieve an ending” she said wisely.
I have already celebrated, and celebrated well, the achievement, the new beginning. Perhaps now is the time for a wee bit of reflection and maybe even some sadness. I loved my time at Dominican, even though the relentless pressure of deadlines sometimes prevented the material from being savored and digested as they deserved. I’m going to miss it. (But, not enough to go for my Masters . . . at least, not yet.)