Tomorrow, I mark off a milestone that’s been a long time coming: a bachelor’s degree in video and film production. 10 years after I first started at a community college, I’m finally reaching that goal! It’s a moment I sometimes never thought would come. I took semesters off (having a baby will force your hand on that one). I took long-distance classes. I went part-time. It seemed so far off that I never really prepared myself mentally or emotionally for the end. I got so enamored by the journey that I forgot there was a destination.

I’ve learned a lot, and not necessarily just things I got graded on. I’ve made some great friends. I’ve had wonderful experiences. When hope and my understanding about my own future were both low, I still stuck to it, determined to at least finish.

I’ll admit–at times, the only thing that kept me going was the satisfaction of just finishing what I started. There are days I wonder if I’ll just end up in a full-time position at my current job, forgetting that I ever got my degree at all. Or that I’ll go back and get my Masters in English, the subject I originally majored in.

That’s another story though. The point is that I finished. I feel so many things: relief, excitement, joy, sadness, nostalgia, fear, uncertainty. Ahead looms student loans that haven’t forgotten me, though I’ve forgotten them; putting away my student discount for good (bye-bye, Adobe Creative Suite);  and losing that comforting reassurance that the library and my university login were just a commute away.

The most unexpected feeling I had though was regret. I don’t feel I’ve made the absolute most out of my college life. I could have gotten involved more in student organizations and doing things for my resume/reel–and sooner. I could have reached out more, to both fellow students and faculty. I could have stuck around after class, volunteered to do more.

But I got what I got. There’s no do-over. From here, I have to go on the available resources and connections I do have. The things I did learn, the people I do know and can still talk to, the paths I can take. Not only did one chapter end in my life, but another is just beginning. That journey could be even more fun than this one; we’ll just have to see.

For now though, I’m going to celebrate this one. 2018 is going to be a whole new ride.

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