Today should have been “my first day of my last semester of undergrad.” It is not.
Last fall I made the decision to push my graduation another semester to summer of 2018 instead of spring 2018.
It broke my heart a little (a lot) to “give up” the moment of graduating with my little sister (my best friend + early childhood education major) this spring. It seemed the stars had aligned to give both of our journeys a landmark achievement together as we wrapped up our degrees at Wright State. I had April 28 marked on my calendar and anticipated so much joy at that ceremony. When I wanted to sleep instead of type organic chemistry lab reports, I used a screenshot of this date on my calendar to motivate me to finish them.
It stings a little, but I'm getting used to saying, "this is my second to last semester, again" with a laugh and a smile. I have to understand the connection to the larger picture. We'll still graduate the same year, and I'm so excited to see my sister accomplish one of her big dreams. Last summer she taught in Chile, and her enthusiasm and passion for teaching is palpable. I'm so happy that her last student teaching assignment is at my son's elementary school. Ms. Bell teaches his math class and Damian loves having his aunt as his teacher!
She's a mommy to my "nephew" Strider.
It is interesting now to look back at all my preliminary assumptions about the path to medical school. Although there have been disappointments, each obstacle has a lesson or an advantage that I didn't see initially. If I had never struggled with general chemistry (prolonging graduation a couple years ago), I wouldn't have had the opportunity to examine the effects of cytokine activity in neurons in response to stress. I enjoy my research and am thankful for the relationships I've been able to develop in my lab. I had no idea that coming back to school would open the door for so many close friendships and support from mentors who care about helping me reach my goals. If I had scooted quickly out of my undergrad, I wouldn't have been able to allow myself to participate in as many opportunities that strengthen my desire to become a physician (like scribing in the ER and tutoring physiology). I've been able to make connections with people who are in graduate school and medical school. Asking questions and getting feedback from them helps me map how I can approach these programs with the challenge of raising my sons to be happy, confident, smart, kind people.
I was taking this pic of just the chalkboard + Hermione, but Damian found his way into the frame playing with her feet. Knowing I have two boys watching every step I take is very motivating.
So... after SIXTEEN years from when I started my undergraduate journey... I'll finish my last organic chemistry exam this summer and quietly go home as a college graduate. There is not a graduation ceremony in the summer and I'll jump into my graduate degree of physiology and neuroscience this fall. I've had to bury this picture of participating in spring graduation, because I have other dreams that mean a great deal more to me. They grew and grew. They were nurtured by the support of the people who love me, and the fascination that developed in me as I discovered that I am obsessed with how we are wired. It intrigues me and I can not get enough of the physiology of our existence.
The lesson here might simply be the common sense that I am a better human & mother if I can distribute some of the burden. Sometimes it is humbling to slow down, but there really isn't a lot of good I can do in the world if my hands are always too full and my mind is stressed (this happens to be my field of research after all!).
In order to embrace the future, I need to empty my hands to have room to touch the dreams that mean the most to me.