Well. It has taken five years, but I have finally finished. I have spent a lot of the last few years juggling. Life, work and study. But it has come to an end. Last night I got my final assignment back for uni and I passed. I will have a degree and I can graduate. It's actually still sinking in. Five years creates a very ingrained habit and mindset.
Before it finished I was beginning to look backwards. Thinking about where I was and who I was when I began. I feel very far from that person now. I was living another life with a partner of 13 years, in a house we'd lived in for about 5 years. But within six months of starting the degree it all changed. I ended the relationship and then spent the next 18 months trying to unravel that life legally and financially. It was not a great time. I also started a new relationship...and a year later got married. We house hunted for about 12 months and eventually found somewhere of our own. Peter and I had a long distance relationship, even after the wedding until the day he lost his job and was made redundant. We have both had anxiety and depression in different amounts and over differing periods. We've faced financial strains and emotional hardship. Then my Dad died. And through all of this I have kept working full time and studying part time.
It feels in many ways like I've run a marathon...with the occasional steeple chase thrown in. Looking back, I don't know how I did it. But I also know that there were times that I cried my heart out at how hard life can be. The type of primal crying that comes from somewhere deep inside. But here I am at the finish line.
I am the first person in my family to get a degree. I was so unsure of what I was doing when I started. So insecure about myself. And although there are some things I'm still a little fuzzy on, I have more confidence now when it comes to writing and speaking my mind. It has changed how I see myself. I know I can do things now. Interestingly this blog has helped me find a voice and a writing style. I think when I began to mix my own writing with essay writing my marks got better. I learnt to be myself and perhaps more importantly - back myself. I guess I have learnt that I can think and write and just keep going. I've never thought of myself as disciplined, but studying via distance on your own, you have to be.
I was talking today with a work friend about how I was a quiet kid at school. I sat and hid behind my fringe and never wanted the teacher to ask me anything. ANYTHING. How utterly terrifying. I never wagged school, except for one class where I hadn't finished my homework. I think I hid in the library! And perhaps I nicked off early one day with a friend. So perhaps I've always been the conscientious nerd who learnt to just keep going.
I plan to give myself 12 months off before thinking about more study. I don't have huge academic aspirations, but I think I can go a little bit further. I guess I feel after the journey of the last few years I owe it to myself. Hopefully it will be just a little further meander in my journey.
I'm sure this will sink in. Perhaps it will take the silly cap and gown to make it seem real. But for those of you tuning in online or those dear friends who have witnessed the journey I want to say thank you. At times when it did seem too hard your kind words of encouragement put a smile on my face and helped me know I was not alone. Like many big journeys there is a support crew and you have been mine. So now I get to plan the pilgrimage to my interstate uni for graduation. I promise to post a picture.