Wednesday, May 22, 2013

At Long Last

On May 11, 2013, after 10 years of Herculean (one of my favorite words) effort, I received my undergraduate degree from Memphis College of Art. My grades were surprisingly good. I gave a speech.

It was hard to compress 10 years and a lot of emotion into a less-than-10-minute speech, but the words were well received, and the response was everything I could have hoped for.
It's amazing to think that after all this time I've finally finished. I feel dazed. I can hardly believe I really made it through to the end. I had to take a whole year off somewhere in the middle because of illness, and I was 99% certain—every single semester—that the miserable health challenges were going to put an end to my academic efforts. I'm still not sure how I managed to pull it off. I think my innate stubbornness ("do it or die trying" seems to be my mantra) is as responsible for this success as anything else. On more than one occasion, however, Stubborn Girl was only barely able to hold Sick Girl together. Thank goodness for spring, summer and holiday breaks, and a few kind and helpful people. 
Both learning new things and studying for tests are uphill climbs when you've got a cognitive system that doesn't work as it should. Throw in a wonky immune system, a constant state of exhaustion, and varying degrees of pain, and just getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning requires so much effort that anything else frequently seems impossible. Some days it is.
There was a lot of trial and error in figuring out how to be a (good) student.  I had to work out how a person who forgets as much as I do could learn, study, and pass tests. I still forgot a lot. In studio classes, I often had to relearn techniques I'd mastered in the semesters (or sometimes just days) before. "Frustration" is such an inadequate word for what I regularly felt; the last several years have been especially difficult. 
Until the very end, I wasn't completely certain I was really going to graduate—but I did—somehow, I managed to see it through. My time at Memphis College of Art meant a lot to me. It was a formidable challenge, but I met some fabulous people and had some wonderful experiences.The triumph hasn't been without costs, unfortunately, and I'm overdue for some serious rest and recuperation, but at the moment, I'm still a very happy girl...

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