My senior year in college started out exactly the way I expected. Deciding what classes I needed to graduate, getting measured for a cap and gown, and figuring out where to apply for law school. Everything about my life, from my spacious sorority house room to my wonderful boyfriend, was perfect. I like to think of myself then as the not-so-skinny brunette version of Elle Woods.
So no one was more surprised than me when I suddenly lost all interest in everything. I changed almost overnight from an outgoing social butterfly to a hermit style couch potato.
After several months of sitting around in my pajamas, staring at the unplugged television and eating Crunch 'n Munch from the box, my roommates staged an intervention. A forced visit to my family doctor resulted in a diagnosis of Clinical Depression.
I started working with the school counselor and figuring out a medication dosage to get my brain chemicals back on track. By the end of the school year I was almost my old self. Unfortunately, months of tuning out the world meant I didn't have enough credits. I wouldn't be graduating with the rest of my class. I had failed and for the first time in my life that failure came with real consequences.
I moved back home, but constant remarks about my inability to graduate weren't helping. My family loves me, but they were convinced the depression was all in my head and I'd just gotten lazy. After a few months of hits to my frail ego, I moved in with my wonderful boyfriend (who is now my wonderful husband) and tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
Working a series of odd jobs including everything from Waffle House waitress (Do you want those covered and smothered?) to insurance telemarketing (Did you know we offer a multi-car discount?) provided me with ample life lessons. Most importantly I learned I needed to get my degree…now.
Making Up For Lost Time
It would take me a year and a half to make up for those lost months. And unlike the first time around, I now had to balance a full course load with a full-time job. Classes were crammed in before my shift in the mornings and stretched late into the night. It wasn’t uncommon to leave my house at 6 a.m. and not come home until 10 p.m. Weekends weren't any better since that was my only available time to power through homework and class projects.
Going back to school was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It forced me to face a failure that had become a defining part of my life. It pushed my time management skills and required a level of dedication I had never reached before.
Finishing my degree brought new meaning to the word 'challenge,' but other than my children it is the one thing I am most proud of accomplishing. After three semesters of sweat and tears (there may have been blood) I finally put on a black polyester robe and shook hands with the dean as she handed over my shiny new diploma.
Anything Is Possible
Now, when I’m faced with a difficult situation, I know I can get through it. A scene I can't get right, feedback that cuts me to the core, yet another round of edits. Hard stuff, but not as hard as going back to school.
There are times in life when I think "I can't do this," be it writing or learning how to knit (a skill I still can't master). But when those moments crop up I remind myself of that muggy day in May when I shook hands with the dean in front of my friends and family and changed a failure into success.
If you think you have a great life changing moment to share (and you probably have several), click here to learn how to get the conversation started. I'm sure if you think it's important, I may too.
Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Plus, sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.
Check out previous posts from the Life Changing Moments Series:
- Is This Really What You Want: Or Unbecoming a Shark.
- You Look Like Your Mama Mated With a Rhino.
- Knowing What Is Best: The Value of Another's Perspective.