Capstone is essentially finished. The project is done, the essays and journal have been turned in for better or worse. Only the hour where I present my project to my Committee is left. When I look back over the course of this project, I can’t even begin to describe the hours: writing, revision, ordering, re-revising, re-ordering; I can’t describe the doubt, the anxiety, the fear, but I can describe the euphoria. It’s done! I completed a poetry manuscript!
This is really huge for me. I’ve always been afraid to commit to a project, for fear that I’d fail. I have to admit that I’m afraid of a lot. I’m afraid of change; I’m afraid of letting go, and I’m definitely afraid to try sometimes. Fear does a lot of strange things to us. It can keep us paralyzed, standing still while opportunities continue to pass us by. Fear can keep us grounded while others are flying among the stars.
The last five years have been life-changing for me. Certain events, like having my kids, have brought earth-shattering change in both positive and negative ways. I’m certainly more apt to do battle over my kids; standing up for them has changed me from a passive person to an aggressive fighter. I’m more prone to emotion because of them. I’m also vulnerable to three tiny people who hold an enormous amount of power over me. Becoming a parent was rather eye-opening.
Other events, like deciding to finally go back to school, have brought nothing but joy. Yes, I’ve been slightly nuts, juggling the work with the kids, housework, and life, but I’ve also been working on a goal that I’ve had forever, which was to get my undergraduate degree. I’ve also been working on a much larger issue without even realizing it: fear. Every day, I’ve had to fight for what I wanted. I had to sit in classrooms with peers and professors I didn’t know. Being an adult student with younger peers was difficult at some points. I had to adapt to the environment without sacrificing who I was, and why I was there. I had to give speeches to earn my degree, something I’ve avoided more than spiders for the last ten years. I had to figure out what I really wanted out of my education, and commit to it with all of my drive and determination.
The whole time, I was conquering fears and I didn’t even know it. During the whole process, I came to realize that I was so afraid of being good at something that I spent my whole life not trying anything. I was so afraid that I really was a worth-while person that I let myself be that unlikable person my family always made me feel like. I was so busy protecting myself that I never really let anyone in. I will never forget the person that told me I could be anyone I wanted, that the past did not dictate my future. Thanks, Trace, I’ll always be grateful.
When I was writing my presentation for Capstone, I couldn’t help but marvel at the changes in me, not only over the past semester, but over the course of the last few years. I’m smarter, certainly, but I’m stronger. I’m stronger because I faced a lot of fear and shot it down. My determination and grit got me through. I am worth more than I ever let myself feel.
The other day, I got my cap and gown for graduation. It felt surreal, but so damn good! I made it. I’m graduating. I’m headed to graduate school, even won a scholarship. I didn’t do it alone though. I have three kids who have sacrificed just as much as I have; the time away was just as hard on them as it was on me. My in-laws have also given up their time, and re-arranged their schedules to coordinate with mine. There are no words to express the gratitude I have toward them. When I walk at graduation, I’m going to look out into that audience and meet the eyes of my family, and know that the moment is just as important to them as it is to me. My kids will remember that day. Hopefully, it’s something they strive for, free of fear.