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Or Am I Dreaming

Numb. Maybe stunned. Perhaps my emotions are still processing, but I thought I’d feel more cathartic turning in my final paper at 8:23 p.m. this evening. After close to ten years of spending the majority of my days attending classes – sometimes while working a full-time job – and then spending my nights and weekends reading, studying, completing assignments, and writing papers, I kind of expected that coveted cleansing release of emotions that purges and resets the mind. There was a slight sense of relief when I finished my last Spanish test earlier this afternoon. But I knew that I still had to finish the nine-page paper for my Transnational Authors literature class. Determined to finish everything today, I spent the rest of the afternoon completely focused on the paper, looking forward to the catharsis that I expected would come after pressing the send button. But I’m still processing.

All I can think about is cleaning the kitchen, organizing some mail currently scattered on the counter, and baking some chocolate chip cookies for my stepson, Ethan. When the school semesters were in session, I’d focus on the bare minimum around the house, sometimes only loading the dishwasher when the dishes had taken over the countertops, washing laundry only when clean clothes were sparse, and tidying up the living room when I needed a break from homework. I’m looking forward to organizing and purging all of the corners of the house that are constantly ignored. I’m looking forward to cooking dinner on a regular basis, maybe baking once in a while, and not being stressed about homework deadlines that weren’t being attended to because I wanted to take time to be a wife and mom for a little while.

Don’t get me wrong. I am completely thankful for the support my family has given me during this process. I have thoroughly enjoyed making new and life-long friends while growing and learning alongside them at school. Through the years I’ve discovered a “me” that I didn’t know existed. Attending college was an experience I never thought seriously about doing because it didn’t seem like a realistic or practical goal for me. When I was fresh out of high school, attending college wasn’t strongly encouraged in my family, so, given that school in general had been a pretty miserable existence for me, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to go to school on purpose – by choice. But now that I’ve completed a journey that I never thought I would take, I’m still processing.

Jen A. Becker, Class of 2020

Saturday, I graduate. Wait. I just need to say that again. On Saturday, I graduate from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing, on the Publishing Track – with Honors. And no, it’s not the graduation I'd hoped for. But a virtual commencement ceremony is, for me, better than not recognizing this years-long achievement. It has been a very difficult journey – one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I did it! I did it! Everything worth doing has some level of difficulty. But it is worth it. It is worth it to go for your dreams. It is worth it – at the very least – to try. You just might surprise yourself.

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