A degree I've been working towards for the better part of the last decade.
A degree I started in the Photography Department of that art school perched high up on Mt. Scopus.
A degree I eventually completed at an ubiquitous and marvelous institution, in the Department of Psychology and Education.
Friends, I am officially educated.
As I write these words, my hear pounds heavy in my chest.
A thick emulsion of pride, relief, joy, fear, apprehension, and ecstasy is as best I can describe the reason for my nervous arrhythmia.
Not including my one and a half years taking pictures and then (superfluously) talking about said pictures, my journey in academia lasted a full seven and a half years.
Many of my peers had, by this time, been granted their M.D.'s, Ph.D's, M.A.'s, and various other combinations of letters signifying this or that venture in this or that field of study had been accomplished, conquered, mastered.
A twinge, a pang, a furrowed brow always accompanied my learning of yet another set of letters being appended to another last name.
And always, always, feelings of inadequacy and self-torment.
Someone smarter than me once said "Comparison is the thief of joy".
I, in the meantime, trudged along in my rudimentary studies.
I got married.
I had a baby.
I worked a few meaningful and meaningless jobs.
I moved to a house that we bought and renovated.
I traveled a bit.
I figured out, in the midst of a where-is-this-thing-going-and-why-am-I-doing-this sort of breakdown, what I actually wanted to do with my life.
I started a job that I liked, at a place that I liked, with people that I liked and that liked and appreciated me and my work.
I had another baby.
I suffered a great disappointment trying to return to that job that I liked only to find out that it wasn't there anymore.
And then I wrote two seminars and I was done being a psychology major.
I enjoyed immensely being a student - the learning part was a thrill and a high, the work part was always a struggle.
I never believed I would one day be done being a psychology major, as the road was long and arduous, the end never really in sight for me.
I began as I usually begin most things in my life - lacking self belief and drowning in pools of self doubt.
So when I handed in that final paper, cutting that last string labeling me "student", I was sure it would come back like a boomerang with a note attached reading: nope, you have yet to master this.
But what in fact returned, was a grade. A final grade for a final paper, marking the end of the list of tasks to be completed in order to receive a bachelor's degree in psychology.
I was done.
On April 27, if the universe aligns just so that all the bureaucratic gods have been sacrificed to with enough time wasted and paper pushed around, I am set to begin the next chapter.
Another two and a half years, give or take, of intense and unrelenting studying, to become a nurse.
A nurse people!
Call me crazy, but I am beyond excited.
And fearful, of course.
But I worked hard to get here.
Because here is where I wanted to be.
It took me longer to realize, to see, to understand, to accept, and to do.
My knowledge all the while that it couldn't have gone any other way - that the lessons I learned, children I birthed, fights I fought, struggles I overcame, successes I snatched - all of these were my milestones on the road to here.
Shush, self doubt. Hail, pride.