This is the last night of 2013. It’s been a year filled with struggle, challenges, worries, excitement, achievements, and successes. So, basically they all balance out each other (more or less).
I’ve struggled with my college classes the past two semesters; gotten angry with my caseworker at the County Assistance Office for ineptitude; worried over an internship and then grieved that it didn’t turn out; struggled with Espanol and managed (by the skin of my teeth) to complete the foreign language requirement of my degree; celebrated with my son on his first ever job as a wage earner; been bored out of my mind during the summer break & anxious for the start of my final semester; learned more (almost) during my final semester than my entire college career; FINALLY had my first Holy Communion and been Confirmed in the Catholic Faith (yes, it’s taken nearly 50 years); agonized over whether I would pass my final 4 classes (mainly due to too many days off ill)….and graduated from IUP with a B.A. in Sociology and a GPA of 3.18 on my 59th birthday.
I didn’t have a large cheering squad at my graduation…..Marcia said she would come if the roads & weather permitted – but WE were even lucky to get to KCAC that day!! Lisa and the kids were going to come, but in the end she just dropped Tyler off (he had a friend graduating as well that day). I didn’t know that Tyler was there, of course, and definitely had no idea whether Lisa & her other kids or Marcia was there. But I did have my son Nathan and my bestie Murphy there for me. Commencement was…..an experience. No other way to describe it really. Naturally I was the oldest person graduating that day. But I have to admit I was proud. At my achievements….at my (sometimes) hard work…..at my being a first generation college student AND a first generation college graduate. And it was so nice that some of the students I’d taken classes with were there as well. Sabrina – I only had one class with her (I think) but she seemed genuinely pleased that I decided to attend commencement. And there was Kelly – from my Social Welfare Policy class – definitely a unique individual in some ways but extremely endearing. And last, but certainly never least, was Sara – being her friend, basically since we had the Profe (Zambrano-Paff) for SPAN 102, and sharing almost daily cheers and rants (both in person and on Facebook) made all the difference.
Some people have commented on how much I’ve changed since I started college. I’m not really sure that I have. It’s been on ongoing process for several decades really. However, since being at IUP, I’ve learned how to investigate more, how to not take things for granted, how to research and do critical thinking. I’ve matured in a lot of ways. I’ve changed in many ways, too. Some would say ‘not for the better.’ I say that my changes have occurred through life experiences and knowledge gained – both on & off campus – and I am more like myself now than I ever was…and not nearly afraid to actually BE that person (okay, I do have times where I try to hide away, but I AM getting better).
A major asset to my “blossoming” into the person I am now has been my friendship with Murphy. She really has no idea how special she is, nor how important she is in my life. She brings something unique, something necessary that I desperately needed. Because of Murphy, I am free to actually be myself without any fear of: what I look like; how old I am; how I act; if I say something stupid: if I act like a teenager; if I act like a tired, mature woman; …. I don’t have to put on that “public face” that I’ve used throughout my life in an attempt to “fit in” with those I’m around.
One friend that I’ve known several decades, who is like a sister to me, sent me a message on FB not long ago. I could tell she felt somewhat hurt and disappointed that my friendship with Murphy seemed more important than my friendship with her. As I tried to explain, I don’t have very many friends – not ones that I can count on, that I consider my “true” friends or “part of my family.” I don’t make friends easily – I never have. I have always been shy and awkward and introverted. But I stressed that each of my “true” friends bring something special, something unique, something necessary to our relationships. This is true! Without each of the friends I have, I would be like a puzzle missing essential pieces. And the same can be said of my son Nathan, as well as my companion Marky.
On this last night of 2013, I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to have the friends I do. They all complete me – some more than others (thank you, Murphy), but all are necessary to complete the whole picture. And I am thankful for the achievements I’ve made thus far. I can only hope that I will continue to succeed in the coming year – hopefully in the Masters program at IUP, as well as in the social services job market.
Here’s to a wonderful 2013!! And to an equally wonderful coming 2014!!!