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Monday, April 23

Tears and something like Achievement

This past weekend was the University of Maryland graduation in Tokyo. A graduating friend had asked me to come see her accept her diploma and despite the fact that I have no interest in going to my own ceremony one day, I couldn’t refuse to support a friend. In my usual overly emotional way, I ended up hiding tears during the ceremony. I couldn’t help but think about what an accomplishment it was to be earning a degree… in a city halfway around the world from all of your friends and family… and I realized how really truly desperately I wanted this.

Of course I have talked about this all before… this need for recognition that I feel this piece of paper will give me. It’s just doing it over here in Japan… well, it seems so much bigger. And it totally isn’t and I’m not lessening anyone else’s hard-earned. It doesn’t matter where you get your degree, when you did it or how you went about it… it was damn hard.

Today I took two finals which brings my course load back down to four classes. Then next month, I start back into another overlapping semester which will put me again at six classes for one month. Other students who I have become friends with tell me that keeping this pace up is insanity. Friends and coworkers have told me that I need to slow down. And yet… I just can’t.

The way I look at it is that I have this limited time span to get this degree because there are options for moving back home earlier than are anticipated date and I want to be done before that. I simply refuse to stop now and not get the degree when I am so close.

Then there is also this self-inflicted guilt I can’t seem to rectify because I no longer hold my share of the weight financially in the household as I did in the States. We came here to Japan for the experience but I feel guilty if we book a trip to have that experience because there just never seems to be enough money at the end of the month for such frivolity. To resolve this, I soak up every subbing hour offered at the large cost of my peace of mind and patience with the world around me. Just today, I got a call asking for a regular subbing position until the end of the school year. I saw the dollar signs, barely acknowledged my own class schedule and didn’t think twice to throw out an adamant “yes!”

There is simply no good answer to this madness. Is it overachievement or simply another instance of my stupidity rearing its ugly head? Does anyone have a suggestion? Because I’ll admit… I’m getting pretty tired. Honestly, this is probably the real cause behind all the demonstrative tears lately. What else could explain tears during U.S. Ambassador, J. Thomas Schieffer’s commencement address? While it was very good, no one else was heard snuffling under their breath.

We booked a trip to Thailand coming up soon. Four lovely days in Bangkok petting tigers and riding elephants (and I totally mean literally). Yet one more force that drives my nodding head to work towards more of those little, double-lined S’s.

Another force now drives me to apply pen to paper for the constructive purpose of homework. I won’t get that degree by blogging the rest of today away.


Heather Meadows said...

You don't seem like the type of person to slow down. Just get enough sleep, and take breaks, and I'm sure you'll be fine. I know you're going to accomplish your goals, but your mental state once you get there is another matter. Take care of yourself :)

gilda said...

hi karen. you sound like you're really pushing yourself, but i kinda know how you feel. ganbatte ne :)

Mike S said...

Hey, lighten up on yourself a bit. The pace is fast and hectic, but it'll seem like only a short moment in time later. I feel for you, as I got a double master's in a short time by going to school days & evenings while working graveyard shift. Of course, I was very young and impatient then.
As for returning early, I often felt like returning, but then my sense of adventure would kick in and off we'd go again:)

Finding Bangkok Hotels said...

How about your trip in Bangkok... Is it good trip or not????