Tomorrow, I mark off a milestone that’s been a long time coming: a bachelor’s degree in video and film production. Ten years after I first started at a community college, I’m finally getting my degree! It’s a moment I sometimes thought would never come. I took several semesters off, here and there for various reason. For a good chunk of my academic career, I went part-time and online. This caused it to take even longer, which made the whole thing seem so far off and implausible 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. Learned about industry-specific things, as well as other latent benefits, like how to network, how to try new things, how certain people seem to get ahead when you can’t. 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 (Best Buy), forgetting that I ever got my degree at all. Or if 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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