Since my last entry showed me in my cap and gown from the days of my high school graduation, I figured now would be a good time to show pictures of me in my cap and gown for my college graduation. It only took me nineteen years so I guess you could say it is long overdue. I actually started college right after getting out of the Army, as I had originally planned. But, my paperwork from the Army was messed up and I couldn't get the money for college. I called the VA back then and told them I had all my orders and could prove the dates. They told me that orders were amendable and couldn't be used. What they didn't tell me and I didn't find out until it was too late is that you can use your paystub as proof. As such, I quit going mid-semester because I couldn't afford it all on my own. I had no clue about financial aid or grants. I was working full-time as a waitress and going to school on my days off. When the money fell through, I picked up a part-time job working nightshifts at a nursing home. That lasted about two months until I began falling asleep while standing at the fryline waiting for an order to come up. Something had to give, so school and the part-time job was thrown by the wayside. Oh well! I've always done things differently it seems, and this would be no different.
After the Church fiasco, I decided it was time to go to school, not only so I could earn a degree and hopefully a better living, but because I needed to do something to occupy my time and mind. I thought it would be a great way to meet people too. After such a dismal failure, I felt like I needed an accomplishment in my life. I was 32. I didn't know how I was going to pay for it or even what I wanted to study. I had worked in quite a few different fields so I made a list of the things I enjoyed doing and set a plan before me. I went to the local community college and found out that they had an accelerated program for working adults. Most of the classes would only be one night a week and four weekends a session. The classes were nine weeks in length. (Eventually, they were changed to eight weeks.) When I started, I wasn't even sure how I would pay for it. I decided I would just take it one semester at a time. I earned my Associates Degree in Economics within two years. The Cal State system began a similar program during that time. However, they only selected "popular" majors for the program. Accounting which I wanted wasn't one of the options. However, Finance was. I did some research and realized it could help me achieve my goals. As such, two years ago I transferred to the University and proceeded to pursue my Bachelors Degree.
It has been a struggle. The classes are short in length but they require the same amount of work as the longer classes. My life has been nothing but work and school for the past four and a half years. I am burnt out. The question I get most from everyone is what will I do now. My answer? Sleep! What - no new job? No. A year and a half ago I changed jobs. I love my job. It fits right in with my long-term plans and the company pays me well. Eventually, I'd like to get my MBA. However, I need at least a year before I even begin considering it. I just want to live life for a while. I want to actually read a book that isn't required. I want to travel. I want to go out with friends. I don't want to feel guilty every time I do something pleasurable that I really should be studying. I want to be normal.
Many people have commented on what a great accomplishment it is that I have graduated. I don't know if it's because I still have one more class to take or because the graduation ceremony itself was so anti-climatic, but it doesn't feel like much of anything to me. You see, graduation day, felt like a total waste of time. I'm not sure if you can tell by the pictures but it was, for lack of a better word, a cluster-fuck. Instead of an organized processional, we were a horde that was shuffled in to the seating area like we were going to a football game. There were people on cellphones everywhere. Instead of speeches, I heard "Can you see me? I'm the one on my chair waving my hand by the guy with the bright neon green arrow glued to his cap." People in the crowd were blowing bullhorns! There were beach balls being bounced around the audience as the various speakers spoke. There were some who were even doing the fricken wave! People were taking off their cap and gowns during the ceremony and sitting there in shorts and flip flops. Shoot we didn't even have any so called real speakers. The Dean of the College and the President of the University spoke. No guest celebrity speakers or local accomplished businessperson to cheer us on to bright futures. Well, there was the President of the Alumni association who welcomed us as Alumni, then proceeded to tell us to get out and get jobs so we could start making donations. We stood in line, handed someone a card with our name phonetically spelled so they could call it out as we received a pamphlet and shook the Dean's hand. At least the torture lasted less than two hours. Do I feel accomplished? No. I feel like the same person I was the day before I received my pamphlet. What will I do now? Keep on keeping on. But, darn, I have that one last class to take and I sure as heck don't want to. But, I will. Maybe once I have that diploma in my hands, my perspective will change.