This degree was in a field of study I chose. Actually, that's an untrue statement. This field chose me. Since graduating with my first degree in 1989, I've had a series of jobs (including that 12 year stint as a stay-at-home mom.) Every single one of those jobs had, at it's foundation, the essence of social work. Every job included linking individuals with resources, counseling, advocating, and promoting change. The serendipity of it all is so wonderful to realize now, and affirms for me the fact that this new career is far more than a way to earn a living...it's a vocation....a calling. I feel social work in my bones.
This degree is more meaningful because I worked so hard to achieve it. Let me expand on that statement by saying that this is not a hard major. It doesn't require calculators, periodic tables, or mathematical instruments of any kind. It does require a tremendous amount of writing and introspection. It requires that an individual reach into the innermost parts of their mind, heart and soul to see what biases might be lurking there that have the potential to interfere with effectively helping their fellow human being. This process contributed to a significant amount of personal growth for me, as well as being the inpetus for being able to find a greater capacity for forgiveness, both of myself and others.
This major required a number of presentations. I am absolutely, in no way, a public speaker. It is not an overstatement to say that I have, in the past, had a phobia about public speaking. Although others, such as Chip, have told me they'd never know this about me, it's the truth. However, during the past year I have had to get up in front of my peers and professors and try to have something worthwhile to present to them. It's a testament to the fact that the thought of doing something is oftentimes far worse than actually doing it, and in doing that thing that scares us, we transcend it. While I'll never feel totally comfortable as a public speaker, I'm so grateful to no longer be gripped by fear at the thought of doing so.
Life is a journey, and this degree came to fruition after a few years of rough traveling for me. I realize now that this period of my life was my soul's way of trying to get my attention, to let me know that things weren't as they could be. After years of gently nudging and being ignored, my soul was screaming at me to make some serious changes. If anyone resonates with that statement, they'll know that while this can be the catalyst for some wonderful changes, it can also be an extremely painful experience. So it was for me. Happily, however, I can say that my journey is much smoother these days and much of this occurred while pursuing this degree.
Lastly, I think I've clearly communicated that I learned a lot about myself from this experience of going back to school and earning a degree. Better yet, however, is what I learned about my family. I learned my husband is one of the most supportive people I know. I learned he truly cares about my self-growth, and shows this not only in his words but in his actions. I learned that he sees tremendous potential in me, and does what he can to bring it out. I learned that my kids are extremely capable of caring for themselves and each other. I learned my kids have an enormous capacity for compassion. i learned that my kids know how to work together as a team...sometimes putting aside their own wants and needs for the good of the whole.
Lastly...for real this time....is the fact that I am a changed person from pursuing this degree. I like the changes that have taken place. I like the fact that they took place gradually and gracefully. I like that the feeling these changes evoke is one of coming home, and being comfortable...even cozy...in my own being. I couldn't ask for more.