The Aftermath and Other Victories

The semester did not end the way I was expecting.

I ended up having to just… stop. Abruptly. My mental health took a dip in the last weeks of the semester to the point where I was reading pages and retaining nothing, like holding water in cupped hands. I was so fatigued that getting out of bed felt like a battle and sitting through an entire three hour seminar seemed impossible. But I kept pushing and pushing and pushing until I ended up fainting in the library, then spending the rest of the day in the urgent care.

That evening as I sat sipping Gatorade and watching Runaways with my friend in my apartment living room, I knew that something had to give. So, I took stock. At that point, I had already turned in two papers and only had project left– albeit with extensive suggestions for edits. Even though I had until the end of the week to finish it, I just turned it in with maybe half of the edits done, with an explanation to my professor that my health simply took a turn and if I pushed myself anymore, I was likely going to make myself quite sick.

So, I stopped.

Thus far, I have spent most of the break trying to relax and not doing it successfully. Between trying to convince my anxiety to give me a break since the semester is over and spending part of the holidays in the hospital behind my grandmother who came down with the flu, I have yet to feel fully relaxed. Plus, now the worry is my grades (only one is in: an A in Reflections of the African Diaspora.)

In spite of my never ceasing worries and generally rough year (I had to take a brief medical pause from school and my mother was hospitalized for nearly two weeks, plus I had to spend most of the summer writing my Master’s thesis), on this the last day of the year, I did want to spend a little time reflecting on the amazing things that did happen this year:

  1. I presented my original research paper at my first academic conference (Southern American Studies Association Conference) in March.
  2. I became a HASTAC scholar. (Class of 2017-2019!)
  3. I wrote and successfully defended my Master’s thesis!
  4. I curated a small art exhibit at the Lemon Project Symposium in March.
  5. I helped Ari with her Branch Out Trip last January for the Lemon Project. (I get to teach my own this in less than two weeks!)
  6. I successfully finished an entire year of apprenticing at Omohundro.
  7. I attended the Slavery conference at UVA and live tweeted the entire thing.
  8. I attended the Race, Memory and Digital Humanities conference at William and Mary, and my review of the event has been circulating all over the internet ever since.
  9. I’ve been growing Black Girl Does Grad School quite successfully all year.

Plus I did a few personal, life altering things as well:

  1. I did the big chop: I cut off all the relaxed hair until there was nothing left but my natural kinks and curls.
  2. I got new wrist tattoos. They read: I am deliberate and afraid of nothing. When I was a fourth year at UVA, I was recognized by a secret society and the honorees all had personalized quotes atop our letters. Mine was this quote and I never quite got over the fact that this was how someone else in this world viewed me. I wanted to see myself the same way, so I got tattoos to remind myself that I am deliberate and afraid of nothing. 
  3. I found out some new things about my mental health and have been fighting valiantly ever since.
  4. I started to keep a bullet journal.

I’m grateful for the success that I did have and, admittedly, for the failures as well. It’s the only stepping stones to something much greater. I believe that.

In the spirit of attempting to rest my soul, I’m going to step away from Black Girl Does Grad School for a few weeks. I’m going to be back and ready to work in January though. In the meantime, I think you can look forward to a few guest posts. But for now, thank you, dear reader, for coming with me this far. I hope you’ll travel a little further down this road with me.

 

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