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Is that you? Oh my gosh, it is! It’s been forever — you look amazing, by the way. How’s everything? I have so much to tell you!

Remember back in the summer of 2014 when I finally put on my big girl panties and called the University? And the advisor advised that I fill out the paperwork to get my degree work evaluated, plus get my butt over to the community college for assessment? Yeah, that. So I filled out some forms and wrote a check to the Uni then took a bunch of tests and found out that whatever I might have known about algebra at one time in the distant past was gone.

I crashed a Beginning Algebra class and spent upwards of three hours a day working really hard because I felt too stupid to understand math. And ashamed. (I’ll tell you a secret…some days I even cried, that’s how hard it was.) I got a B in that class and in the Intermediate Algebra class the following semester. I got my degree evaluation indicating I needed eight classes to finish my Bachelor’s degree.

I felt overwhelmed and hopeless.

But I took African Literature (with my oldest kid!) and got an A. I talked to the English department chair and petitioned for credit on a course that the evaluator had denied — and got the credit. Suffered mightily through Statistics (another A!), dragged my rather sizable ass onto a train twice a week at 6:30am to attend The Writing of Criticism classes (jackpot, yet another A, plus the professor recommended my final research paper be included in the student research symposium).

Then I only had two classes left.

This semester I was back on the train twice a week for Literature of the Middle East and Techniques of the Novel, both taught by a visiting professor, Israeli author Assaf Gavron. It was utterly terrifying to write the required first two chapters of a novel then have them critiqued by a published novelist and an entire classroom of people. But I did it. And I survived.

At first I wasn’t terribly interested in Middle Eastern lit, but it was fascinating. The professor brought it to life and tied it to current events in a meaningful way. Plus, there are some kick-ass authors in the Middle East (Etgar Keret, Sayed Kashua, Riverbend, Suad Amiry, Leila Abouzeid, and Assaf Gavron, of course). I turned in my final projects this week. No grades yet, but I’m sure I passed.

I’m a college graduate!

To everyone who thinks something will be too hard, they’re not smart enough, are too busy, can’t find the money, it’ll never be worth all the trouble: You can do it. Whatever “it” is — you can overcome the obstacles you put in front of yourself. You decide.  Just take one step forward. Just that first step. For me it was finally picking up the phone and talking to that advisor. Graduation seemed ridiculously far away when I made that call, but whether I took the necessary classes or not, the time was still passing. Tick tock, what’s it gonna be?

I’m proud to say I no longer regret not finishing my degree. I did it. And you can, too. You really can.

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