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.

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.