By Megan Reilly
I couldn’t figure out what to write about this week when I sat down to write my weekly post. Then after awhile, I realized it should have been the easiest post to write, because… I’m graduating this week!
For being just about to finish something I’ve been working on for the past two years, I’m having some seriously mixed emotions about finishing my masters degree. So, I made two lists to try to separate these emotions and focus on the positive ones this week. I can handle the rest later.
Reasons I’m excited to graduate:
-My mom and little brother (aka my favorite human beings on the planet) will be here in two days. I haven’t seen my family since Thanksgiving. I’ve been frantically cleaning my house getting ready for them for the past few days. And, most importantly, this is the first time my mom will be seeing my home, visiting me in DC, and really seeing the adult life that I have built for myself over the past three years. My mom and I are really close, so I’m not nervous about this. I am just overwhelmingly excited to show her something that I’m really proud of.
-It might be the last time for a long time that my group of friends will all be together. It isn’t my whole cohort, but a good sized group of us have become very close over the last two years. And inevitably, some of those lovely people are taking jobs elsewhere. Friendships will remain strong, I am sure. But the final moments all together (at least living all in the same place) will be really special, and very bittersweet.
-I’m going to have a master’s degree. I am still I think figuring out what that means and what it means to me. I think that’s a topic for another time because I’m not really ready to process what this is adding to my self-worth or how I view my identity, but it’s a big deal.
Reasons I’m not so excited:
-Technically I’m not graduating. I still have 6 weeks of online summer courses before I technically will receive my degree. I will be done by June 27th which is still pretty soon, but I still don’t feel like I quite get to celebrate as much as my peers for not *really* being done. And I really should be starting all the reading I already have to do for those classes this weekend, but that won’t be happening.
-Nothing is really going to change. I’m already a full staff member and not completing a graduate fellowship. On Monday morning after this weekend’s graduation, I’ll be going right back to my job and very little will change. My life changed completely after finishing college and that isn’t going to happen this time. It feels very anti-climactic and I’m not really sure how I feel about that.
-Graduate school was exhausting and for so long, graduating was the light at the end of the tunnel. But now that I’m here, I realize it’s really the starting block. The past two years of hard work and heavy sacrifice of time, money, social life, etc. is a minor speck in my career and has led me to… basically starting at the beginning.
So here I sit, staring at the finishing line, having all of these mixed emotions, and wondering how I’m supposed to be feeling. I guess all I can do at this point is enjoy the celebrations, accept the congratulations, and take some pride in what I’ve accomplished. The rest I can figure out on Monday.