Saturday, February 20, 2010

three years of becoming me

I'm within five days of turning 28 years old, and the thought of it has stopped me in my tracks more than a few times this week. Twenty-eight is not an exciting number. It has none of the connotations that 13, 18, 21, or 29 do. I'm not becoming anything, except older. I'm not gaining any privileges. And I'm not on the precipice of anything different, like *gasp* my thirties. But 28 is closer to 30 than 25, which has caused me to be more thoughtful about how I want to celebrate the upcoming day.

In fact, I've been thinking often about all that has happened to me since age 25, and I can't help but be proud of what I've accomplished. In the past three years, I have...

  • completed a master's thesis in Victorian literature and successfully defended it (Feb. and Mar. '07)
  • presented paper at CEA in New Orleans (Apr. '07)
  • accepted a marriage proposal from the man of my dreams (Apr. '07)
  • completed master's degree coursework (May '07)
  • graduated with my Master of Arts in English (May '07)
  • planned a wedding in three months while working full-time (summer '07)
  • got married! (Aug. 4, '07)
  • moved across three states from TX to CA (mid Aug. '07)
  • started new teaching job two days after we arrive (Aug. '07)
  • started Ph.D. coursework at new school (Sept. '07)
  • presented papers at CEA in St. Louis (Mar. '08) and Pittsburgh (Mar. '09)
  • Taught 12 writing and literature courses as an adjunct professor (Aug. '07-present)
  • Also a university writing tutor (Sept '08-present), teaching assistant for crazy/brilliant woman (Jan. '09-May '09), library grunt-worker (Summer '08 and '09), and editor for scholarly journal (Oct. '09-present)
  • completed French language requirement (Jan. '09)
  • completed Ph.D. coursework (May '09)
  • completed Spanish language requirement (May '09)
  • completed Ph.D. qualifying exams and successfully defended them (Jan. and Feb. '10)
(tired yet? because I am...)

The past three years have gone by very quickly, and there is no doubt that they've been the hardest of my life. I've worked day and night for my accomplishments, for my career, and for my future life as a scholar and a loving wife. It has been arduous; I've wept and slept over many a book, I've typed until I had blisters, I've sprinted across university campuses with no parking in the highest of heels to get to classes I'm taking or teaching, and I've had monumental highs and lows of faith and doubt in my own ability to succeed. To fight through when I would rather cry or curl up in a ball with a blanket and cozy mystery novel.

But I've also shared it all with my husband (also a doctoral student) and had some beautiful and hilarious moments with him as we venture through our married life together.

I've made some of the best friends I've ever had in life.

I've read more books than I thought humanly possible.

I've taught hundreds of students how to appreciate the symmetry of a well-placed semi-colon in an argumentative essay.

I've taught hundreds of students how to appreciate the beauty of metaphor in British poetry.

I've become an aunt and discovered that, someday, I too will be a wonderful mother.

I've learned to love others unconditionally.

I've had a great time being ages 25, 26, and 27. These three years have excited me, stretched me, challenged me, and defined me as a young adult.

I don't expect my birthday to be a big deal, but I can't keep my heart from fluttering in anticipation as the calendar days tick by. I already know that I won't graduate with my Ph.D. until age 29, but 28 is the year that will push me to that finish line. It might not be an exciting number, but it's mine, and I'm gonna milk it for all it's worth. 28? Bring it on.