Well, friends, I did it!
I finally managed to graduate with my master's degree! I feel like I've let this blog go to the wayside while I finished up both my second year of teaching and the coursework and paper writing required to finish up.
My parents flew out for graduation, my husband and I both took a full day off of work, and my brother drove up to see it straight after work. It was truly a wonderful day and a great endpoint to this chapter of my academic career.
This time graduating was not a big scary cliff I was pushed over, landing squarely and painfully into the real world - I was already entrenched in it and graduation was a refining process. I improved my teaching practice through reflection, writing, and study. I learned how to better communicate and build relationships with people in my academic program. I learned, most of all, how to write the best ever "Can I get coffee with you and pick your brain" email...and I made it a point to use it and seek out wise people who are walking the paths I would like to walk.
I think age also has a part in that - the difference between 22 and 28, though only six years between, is staggering. I know who I am now, I've had full time jobs in two career trajectories, I've spent time really contemplating what it is I want and who I want to be. My relationship with my husband has evened out through time and refinement and work. I've moved to Colorado and made a life here. I'm beginning to dig in, do work, and stick around long enough to see the work come to fruition.
Life settles as you get older, and not in the way that everyone here in Colorado is always railing against, that painful token house in the suburbs, a car payment, and all the accessories. Settling doesn't mean you no longer travel or write off the idea of selling everything and backpacking the world if that's what your heart is set on. It doesn't mean you hang up your guitar or platform wedges or never take your bike out except on the weekends. Settling doesn't mean you accept what you've been given as all there is or stop trying to become a better person, or stop learning.
It is more about coming to terms with who you are as a person. Maybe self acceptance is a good way to define my version of settling. You make peace with the size of your hips and thighs or nose or the way you look in skinny jeans. You begin to cope with the fact that you always will be or never will be a morning person and your best work is done late at night or first thing and you begin to set aside time during that hours for your passion projects. You begin to toss some of the clothes that were purchased in fits of craziness and create a more cohesive wardrobe that makes putting together work outfits a whole lot easier and a lot less time consuming. You learn to say no when you're overbooked and yes when you're excited about a project. You begin to invest your time in long term ideas and projects, no matter where you are in life.