Graduation.

Rebecca Ann Laird. Psychological Sciences.

That’s what they said.  They read it off my little green card.  As I stood on the marker, waiting to hear my name before I could walk across the stage and accept my diploma folder, I could feel my blood rushing.  I know that’s what they said because it was on the card, but all I heard was “Rebecca,”

I couldn’t stop smiling.  Earlier in the week I was making remarks about how I wish my parents didn’t insist on me participating in the ceremony, but in that moment of being handed a fancy folder that didn’t actually contain anything of value, I felt so proud of myself.

I still am.  I am proud of myself.  I am inspired by what I actually overcame to get to this point.  I teared up when one of the speakers mentioned overcoming personal obstacles to reach this point. I wasn’t expecting that to be mentioned, and I had this moment of, Oh yeah.

Five years isn’t that long.  It’s flown by.  But if you go back to when I was 19-21, camped out at rock bottom, trying to find happiness at the bottom of a bottle, and then look at who I am now, it doesn’t even look like the same person.

I am inspired. To be better. To do more. To try new things.

Even after I began to start over, I still held myself back because I felt ashamed of my experience. I’m done with that. I have finally forgiven myself for my actions during that time period.  I’m not proud, but I did the best I could at the time.  The details really do not matter anymore.  The only thing that matters is that I am alive.

I’m not going to settle because I’m afraid or because I feel like I don’t deserve to be happy or achieve great things.

I hope the memory of walking across that stage remains as vivid as it is in my mind right now.  It was this moment of clarity, where everything fell into place, and I felt it. This is just the beginning.

I held my empty diploma folder above my head as I walked off that stage and out of the gymnasium, and even though my feet were KILLING me, I couldn’t stop smiling and I felt like I was on top of the god damn world.

What’s next?

Well, let’s find out.

Calm before the storm.

I went on a hike today with a friend I met in a class this past semester and one of his friends. We got out of town a bit and got lost among trails and creeks.  Pretty early on we abandoned even following an official trail, and jumped into the rocky creek and explored.  It was one of the best mornings I’ve had in a long time.  Or ever, really.  I’m still exhausted from the almost three hour adventure.

I’ve always loved going on runs through parks or walking Dallas and just zoning out to my music, but there was something about today.  Out there in the boonies, with no cell signal, no headphones, just me and a couple of friends, my anxiety was silenced.  I felt so comfortable with myself, and the beauty of the area actually took my breath away.

There was a moment though, between climbing through teetering creek rocks, and when we decided that a tree was a good bridge to cross some water, there was a period where two of us sat, and the other skipped rocks, and it was just… quiet.

It was raining. Not hard, but still precipitating.  Somehow, even sitting in the open, we didn’t get totally soaked. The surrounding trees shaded us enough.  But you could hear the birds, the rain on the leaves of the trees, C skipping rocks, and it was the most peaceful period of time I’ve ever experienced.  Nobody was talking. We were all just there, in the moment.

And in that moment, I felt calm. I am not someone who ever feels calm.  I am an extremely Type A personality that likes routines and schedules and has a hard time doing nothing without panicking about other things that need to be done.  I’m wound pretty tight. It’s not great, and I’m working on it. I’m a lot better than I used to be. But I felt so calm then, and really the whole time I was with them I felt like that. I felt calm and accepted and content. Minus the few minutes of me walking across a fallen tree to get across water and praying I wouldn’t fall, because my phone was definitely in my pocket. (Somehow I didn’t fall, and I’m still insanely proud of myself for managing to do that.) 

But being out there, I forgot about everything. I forgot about how I just quit my crappy retail job for the sake of my sanity.  I forgot about how, despite countless applications to real jobs, I haven’t received any phone calls for interviews.  I forgot about all the family I have coming into town for my graduation.  I forgot I was even graduating on Saturday.

I was just out in the woods, with wet shoes and a couple of super chill guys, living in the moment.

I honestly could have stayed out there forever.

The drive back into town slowly brought me back to reality, and as soon as I got back into my own car, my mind immediately filled with everything I need to do over the next couple of days.

I think I need to go on hikes more often.

Thank You.

Today I finished my capstone paper.  I also submitted my final assignments for my theatre class. I have an exam tomorrow, and one next Monday, along with my final performance of my monologue from Gruesome Playground Injuries for my theatre final, and then, I am done.

So it’s just exams. Exams that I feel very good about. I feel finished. I know I’m not quite there yet, but that ridiculously long list of things I needed to get done is finally complete.

When I submitted my final assignment for my theatre class, the last actual homework assignment I needed to do, it finally hit me.  I’m actually graduating.

I understand graduating college is expected for a lot of people, and to some it’s not even that big of a deal.  That’s how I felt about graduating high school.  It wasn’t anything to be proud of.

That’s not how I feel right now, I feel like I truly accomplished something.

Spring semester of my sophomore year of college I attempted suicide. I fought all of my doctors and family members to stay and finish that semester because somehow, I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem, despite the fact that I had just tried to kill myself. The following fall, I took a medical leave of absence because not only was I not getting better, I was getting worse. Mental illness is a bitch, and Borderline Personality Disorder is the most tormenting, psychotic rollercoaster ride I have ever experienced.  I spiraled out of control for a solid two years before I finally got fed up and started the long climb up from rock bottom. Even when I started recovering, I wasn’t sure I would ever go back to school.  I wasn’t sure I could do it, I didn’t think I was mentally strong enough to get through it.

Well, here I am.

I had to transfer schools to get a fresh start, but I’m really glad I did.

I’ve met some amazing people here.  I’ve had incredible professors.  I’ve learned so much.

So, thank you, Mizzou.  For giving me a place to start over, and welcoming me with open arms.

Thank you to those who knew me before, during, and after all of the above mentioned shitshow, and still choose to call me a friend. I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Thank you to those who have assured me over and over that my past does not define my present or my future.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I am so grateful to be alive.

If you told me five years ago that not only would I be graduating college, but that I would also truly be happy,  I would have said you were just as crazy as me.

But here I am.  My life isn’t perfect, and I still struggle. Anxiety is a bitch. But I fought my own mind for multiple years and eventually relearned how to think and process social situations.  I don’t identify with BPD because I don’t meet the criteria anymore.  That’s incredible to me.  I honestly thought I would feel psychotic forever.

I’m still kind of in tears over this.  I feel so triumphant.  It took me awhile to get here, but god damn, I did it, and I’m a better, stronger person for it.

So fuck you, mental illness. You can’t stop this girl.