Class started today and I am back at it again. This time pursuing an Associate's Degree in Marketing. On May 17, 2018 I graduated from Central Piedmont Community College with an Associate's Degree in International Business. I was strategic in completing this program in 2018 because I wanted to graduate at the same time as my nephew, Evan (Mallard Creek High School class of 2018). I wanted to share this moment with him and show him that no matter what is going on in your life, if you set a goal and work towards it, you can complete it. You can find pictures of our joint graduation photo shoot captured by Michael Maxwell at the end of this post.
I am a depression survivor and have worked hard to maintain my mental health since my diagnosis in early 2000. At one point, I was even suicidal and will share more about that in future posts. I am a HUGE advocate for therapy as it was one of the tools that saved my life during that difficult time. I knew I would need help to stay mentally healthy during my return to school. My therapist was pivotal in helping to realize just how monumental this task was for me. I never gave myself credit or celebrated my victories in life. I would complete one task and simply move on to the next task. She taught me how to move past that behavior. I am forever grateful for Natasha Oates. A few months before graduation, she had me make a list of all of challenges I had to overcome to get to where I was and read it aloud. I honestly was shocked at all that I had encountered and pushed through to get to that point. Here are a few things that were on my list.
1. Third time really is a charm. Prior to returning to college, I had dropped out of school three times. First from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1991, (AGGIE PRIDE!) second from Central Piedmont Community College in 1992 and lastly from Cosmetology School several years later. Yep, I am even a beauty school dropout.
My stint at A&T was simply a matter of unpreparedness and bad timing. I had never been away from home, never been exposed to that amount of freedom and just wasn't ready to enter college. I am so thankful that they developed the Gap year. I think quite a few students can benefit from taking a year off before going to school. I always tell people I majored in partying and minored in shopping. In college I developed a bad drinking habit and bad credit.
When I returned to CPCC in 1992, I still wasn't ready. I was working by this time so school wasn't a necessity in my eyes and I still wasn't quite sure what I wanted to be when I grew up and that still hasn't changed. I did well in classes but I lacked focus.
Years later, when I finally discovered my talent for natural hair, I decided to go to Cosmetology school to get my license. The problem was that I loved natural hair but HATED everything else I would have to learn in cosmetology like relaxers and roller sets. I wasn't learning anything that would benefit in my career as a natural stylist so I dropped out and went on to become not only a successful natural hair stylist but a two time salon owner.
2. Surgery happens. During the final year that I was in school, I had to have two separate surgeries and was diagnosed with gallstones. My thoughts are that stress increases the amount of pressure placed on our bodies and I was under a huge amount of self imposed stress. My first surgery was in January for a kidney stone that was found during a trip to the emergency room. If you are unfortunate enough to have had a kidney stone, you understand the amount of pain that I endured. I suffered for 8 hours prior to going to the ER because I thought it was just a bad case of gas. As it got worse and worse, I knew something was wrong. The ER doctor said it was too large to pass, so I would have to have surgery.
Ironically, that surgery led to my second surgery. The surgeon said I had a cyst on the one ovary that was left from a previous hysterectomy and that I needed to see an OB/GYN about it. I wasn't experiencing any pain at all in association with the cyst but decided to follow up anyway. The OB/GYN said the cyst was huge and that the ovary needed to be removed. I had a study abroad planned in June so I asked if the surgery could be postponed until then. She agreed and the surgery was scheduled for July.
In June, one week before my flight to Ireland for my study abroad, I was taken to the ER again for excruciating pain in my side. Diagnosis: Gallstones. The doctor told me that I would have to see a specialist when I returned and that I could not drink alcohol in Ireland. He was from Europe and knew Ireland's reputation for pubs. I agreed and decided to just give up drinking permanently.
I am happy to report that the gallstones disappeared, my surgery went well and I am the epitome of good health.
3. Pressure bursts pipes and creates diamonds. Life happens and if you aren't careful, it will wipe you out. Amidst all of the challenges, I graduated with honors and a 3.9 GPA. I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college and as Evan starts college today, I hopefully will not be the last.
I graduated at the ripe age of 46 so please know that age is only a number. It doesn't matter when you start or when you finish. If you have the determination, you can accomplish anything. Now I am back in school again to obtain another degree. I chose an additional Associate's degree because I only needed 8 classes to meet the requirements. It was a no brainer. I am not sure if I will continue on to obtain a Bachelor's degree but I am open to the possibility if a school offers me a full ride. I just enjoy learning. College is not the end all, be all and I am glad that I had the opportunity to figure out what worked best for me.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to share these moments with me. What challenges have you overcome to complete a goal that you really wanted to achieve?
Depression survivor that discovered the power of positive thinking.