Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Interesting Comparison

I just finished my summer school class, and I really can't seem to see how this was a "summer" class. It was 12 weeks, same as all my other 3 credit classes. While I am very happy to be done with this class, it reminds me of my trek through the world of cancer treatments. Well, sort of. Getting my Master's degree is a bit different from going through chemotherapy, but there are a lot more similarities that I would have ever thought.

First off, grad school gives me headaches. Staring at the computer, reading documents written by smarty pants that use words I have never heard, having to write documents with words I hadn't heard of, and working with people who don't necessarily see eye to eye. That has been my grad school experience so far, full of headaches.

Chemo made more than my head hurt. It made my body sore, and nauseated. Sometimes I had to listen to doctors use words I had never heard, but at least they were nice enough to explain in lay-man's terms. Chemo rendered me useless for days afterwards, but that very first day after, I had A LOT of energy. Chemo could make me very cranky (but I still reserve that right, I was dealing with cancer!).

Grad school makes me cranky. Problem with this one is, there are a whole lot of people who are going through the same thing I am, and maybe not complaining as much. :) Or there are even more people who have already been through what I have, but had it a lot worse. So, while reading, writing, listening, and working with people makes me cranky, I have to remind myself to suck it up, there is an end in sight.

We used to joke that we could see that light at the end of my chemo tunnel, and we just hoped that it wasn't the train! I honestly couldn't tell you the exact number of treatments I had, the number of shots (that one I could guess), the amount of CT scans (or AWFUL Barium I had to drink), or blood transfusions I endured as a cancer patient. But there is a key word there, ENDURED. That means I survived. If I could survive a year and a half of chemo, losing my hair, being away from the man I love, why I am complaining about grad school? Oh yeah, it's what I do!

A friend gave me a book for my 20th birthday, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and Its All Small Stuff." That is me, I worry  (and complain) about the small stuff, while the big stuff, like cancer, doesn't phase me. I did what I had to do to survive. That's who I am. It's kind of funny, as I started this post, this wasn't where I was going at all. I love that I am learning more and more about myself, by putting myself out there and sharing.

Okay, 21 credits (I hope) down, 19 more to go! May 15, 2011 will be here before I know it, and then I will just have to find some other project to annoy myself with, that reminds me what truly is important life. I am doing this to better myself.

So, while grad school gives me headaches, it has also exposed me to people and knowledge that I did not know or have. It has opened up my mind to world I thought I knew, given me opportunities to expand my horizons, figure out what I want to do with this one life I have. And I have to say, last August when I began this journey, I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I'm not saying I have figured out what I want to be when I "grow up," but there is a clearer path ahead of me, with different forks and options. I look forward to this journey, and wonder just where it will take me.

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