I distinctly remember, when I started graduate school and this blog was still a smart-assy snarkfest of cynicism and blackhearted schlock, I commented about always feeling the need to reach for something. That is to say, I've always been happier when I'm neck deep in the pursuit of some lofty goal--a degree, for instance.
When I graduated with my B.A. in 2003, even though I had a boatload of things to feel good about, I didn't feel good at all. I felt like I'd lost my job. In a very real way, I felt very lost myself. My grandparents passed away only months before I graduated, I moved a very long way from my hometown and my family, and I started teaching. And, above all, I didn't have a very good attitude about anything. I fell into a very deep depression for a very long time, and instead of trying to fix it, I think I wallowed in it, and it wounded my life and my relationships.
I realized I couldn't blame my funk on anyone but myself when I moved back to Texas from North Carolina in late 2004 and I was still depressed. Beginning my M.A. in the fall of 2005 was a welcome distraction, and it made me feel good about myself. It made me feel smart and driven and motivated, and I met a slew of like-minded people whom I love dearly and will always count among my greatest friends and allies.
Now, almost exactly four years after I graduated from college the first time and moved to North Carolina for the first time, I'm in the same position, but things are dramatically different. I am, maybe for the first time in my life, quite content. Even though I've graduated from college once again, and I have no impending degree on the horizon, I'm fine with it. I've come to a place in my life where I realize that I can't measure my success or my worth by how many degrees I collect or books on my shelf or pennies in my bank account. I measure my worth by how I feel about myself and about my life.
I enjoy being out of my mother's house but still talking to her on the phone every day. I enjoy living with B. and being in love. I enjoy spending time with his family. I enjoy writing and reading and editing Estella's Revenge. I enjoy cooking and cleaning and being at home. And, of course, I look forward to teaching again in the fall. In short, there's nothing I would change.
For once, I'm not desperately reaching for anything to make me feel complete and "finished."
Edit: And since it's such a happy day, I'd like to report the latest good news. The community college called this afternoon, and they've offered me another course for the fall. Now I'll be teaching two Developmental Reading classes along with a Freshman Composition course. Should be fun!