Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What My B.S. Stands For

Lots of wonderfully flighty things are floating around in my mind on this humid Tuesday of Finals Week. Firstly and foremost: that final that I took today? That could have gone better. 

Loads better. I think this is the first time in my collegiate career, or rather my schooling overall, that I have been actually legitimately concerned about passing a course. That's a little embarrassing. But alas, regardless of how much time I put into it, or how much I enjoyed the course overall, or how much I would recommend it to my friends, or how much I absolutely adore the professors, that particular course has been my sacrificial lamb this semester. I sacrificed attention to this course so that I could either a) sleep for once, b) visit my graduate school, c) work on an international collaboration in computational physics, or d) make sure that my thesis would not be just mediocre. No, scratch that: d) make sure that my thesis would be damn good, and publishable on top of that. And it is!

And then I began to think about all of the sacrifices that I have made in pursuit of a B.S. in physics as well as a B.S. in astrophysics. I've sacrificed a lot of things; sometimes to the extent that I am now simply unwilling to make such sacrifices anymore. 

I have sacrificed time with friends and family that I won't get back, and perhaps time for which I have tried to make up over the past couple of months. You know, as soon as I realized that I have no turnaround time, and I am absolutely outta here, because I have to do it this way. 

I have sacrificed decent nights of sleep in the interest of finishing assignments (mostly) on time. I have learned exactly how many hours there are in a day, and what a girl can do with them. Most importantly, I learned that the night is not infinite just because you've stayed awake the whole time. The sun still rises, and although it seems like the height of rudeness at the time, the sunrise is, at least, one thing that remains constant and faithful.

I have sacrificed my physical health. In my fatigue and awkward working and schooling hours, I probably haven't worked out in over a year and I am tipping the scale far more than I probably should. However, that's not permanent, and I am looking forward to having a few months to my own devices in the wilderness soon and then moving to Appalachia where I can conquer hilltop after hilltop! 

I have sacrificed my mental health. My mental health has risen and fallen drastically, and I have largely tried to keep that under wraps as well. I have come to the difficult conclusion that just because one fills her time with an impossible amount of school things, it doesn't mean that life stops. Life still happens, and I try to be conscientious of this fact with my peers as well as my students. There is a whole lot of trauma to experience in this life; especially when I largely live my life from one trauma to the next. During my work with the MSU Sexual Assault program, I have learned the meaning of "vicarious trauma" and have linked it back to my own private pains. It's a hard thing to process, sometimes. However, I am happy to say that this July I will be three years depression free and I am learning to accept my anxiety as something that is a gift rather than a crutch. Sometimes, it forces me to rest. Sometimes, it prevents me from jumping head first, eyes closed into an emotionally damaging situation. Sometimes, it simply allows me to feel, reflect upon, and connect with my own body and mind. It is growing me. I am growing, and for the sake of that growth, I am glad for it.

I have sacrificed money; dollars and cents that were not always mine to begin with. There isn't really much that can say about this. I'm eternally in debt, eternally grateful, and eternally blessed. I cannot wait for the opportunities to give back.

With all of these sacrifices, one might wonder why I didn't change plans and just become a singer, like I am in real life. People often ask me if I've ever wanted to just give up, if I've ever wanted to quit. You know what? The miracle here is that I can look such people in the eyes and tell them that no, I've never wanted to give up. I am exhausted in every way a woman can be exhausted, and sometimes I simply can't finish what I've been asked to finish, but I have never wanted to give up all the way. I am so convinced that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to do, and I'll keep fighting for that. That's not something to take for granted. That's a gift.

So when I accept my B.S. on Saturday afternoon, I will remember what it meant. B.S. does not just stand for Bachelor of Science; it stands for Big Sacrifices. There are some things that I will never get back, but they pale in comparison to the things that are coming. Was it worth everything?


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