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Grading Yourself

It’s no secret that I suck at my epidemiology class.

I’ve spared yall most of the gory details of how horrible the last 9 weeks have been. I look forward to this module coming to a close for a variety of reasons. Last week, when I was at the worst of being sick, I gave up. I said forget it and didn’t even bother to show up to class. The week before I looked a hot mess and proceeded to go to bed and not go to work the next day. I digress.

Residual I don’t give a fuckness was all over my work ethic for school last week, especially that class. So, when I had an assignment due on Friday night, I threw up my hands and said it was something I couldn’t face or couldn’t deal with and I’ll accept a zero. I’ll be a grown up and accept it.

As my health started to improve especially by Sunday, I found myself drawn back to the material. I took the pressure off of the deadline that I’d already missed and I sat with my books and notes and I even went back to watch the recording of the class I missed. And I took notes.

I wasn’t doing this for a grade, I already made the conscious decision not to try and by default fail that assignment. I was learning for the sake of learning. I was learning for myself because I didn’t  want to feel defeated. I found that I was getting it right and when I got it wrong, I knew why I was getting it wrong. There was a certain level of self-satisfaction that came over me.

So as I sat in class tonight and she mentioned the assignment and how she’d grade them by the end of the week, I said even if I didn’t understand the rest of it, I wanted to hand in the section that I worked so hard on. Again, Damn a grade, I want proof that my hard work and practice paid off.

So after class, I handed it what I did. It’s not finished by any means, but I sent my professor an email basically saying contrary to my lack of participation in class and my horrible grades, I’m not a quitter. I’m handing this in for me and I just want to see if I’ve improved. So whatever penalty comes with handing it in late, I accept. What I can’t accept is knowing I worked so hard over the weekend to improve on something and not show myself or my professor that I actually did put in the work to improve, even if it’s a small part of the assignment.

Some of the epiphanies I’m having about grad school includes the fact that my education really is for me.

I’m spending all of this money, for me.

It’s not about what my professor thinks. Hell, I didn’t even have to explain myself in the email, but I wanted to. I wanted to get those things off my chest for me. The email wasn’t even for my professor, it was an affirmation to myself that she can bear witness too. I could care less as to what her response will be and have told myself to not even worry about it. I actually prefer she grade my work and not respond to the email. But she will. She’s aware of the difficulty I’ve been having, but she’s been pretty much hands off unless I ask her about something. It’s grad school, we’re grown. It’s my education and not anyone else’s so I own that.

I certainly care about my grades, but for a class with this much hardship, I do have to take it to the basics of celebrating small victories and learning for the sake of learning and not for mastery of a topic. I don’t plan on nor do I want to be an epidemiologist, but I understand how this information will inform decisions I make and how I analyze information in the public health arena. So I don’t pooh-pooh the necessity of the course. I just wish that circumstances allowed me to just take that class alone instead of with another class, as I had done this semester. Lesson learned.

I will say this, the difference between when I’d get frustrated in a math class in high school and undergrad and now is, I let setbacks in those classes make me question my entire intelligence, which is absurd. I’m older and I know better. My participation and enthusiasm in my policy class is like night and day. I’m sure some of my classmates are tired of hearing me talk in that class. Those classmates would probably get some pleasure out of my silent frustration if they saw me in epidemiology.

So, back to the point of this whole thing. This is for me.

A smart person once told me when getting your graduate degree, it’s a lie to call it yours. It belongs to the school. They create the rules and you have to jump through hoops they establish to get it. You have no say in the matter. You earn the right to hold the degree, but it isn’t yours.

While I get the point that person made, I’m going to disagree. My education belongs to me and recognizing that, I didn’t let the machine totally get to me because I did the work for me this week, not for a grade. I’m competing against myself. And I knew if I went another day willfully not handing in that assignment, I would have been disappointed with myself.

I would have been even more disappointed if the few pitiful points I will earn for it (with late penalty) would have been the exact amount of points I needed to barely pass the class. And I deserved to give myself that chance at earning that potential down-to-the-wire, millisecond, photo finish.

Lucky Girls

Great wall of Lucky covers! Ultimate Lucky Girls.

Great wall of Lucky covers! Ultimate Lucky Girls. (Screencapture Google Image Search)

When I was a bright-eyed college student, one of my roommates always bought Lucky magazine.

I’d read hers, and eventually I was hooked myself.

In the beginning, during the college years, I would marvel at all of the great clothes, shoes and handbags I couldn’t afford.

But what seemed to get me the most were the women they featured. Not the celebrities, but the “regular” women they called “Lucky girls.”  They really inspired me. Especially the ones who were editors and writers and gadget queens.

*Sidebar, I don’t know what the hell happened over at Lucky, but they have really stepped it up in terms of diversity. There are way more women of color in there now and I’m loving that they are doing features with plus sized and regular sized women with curves. They have made me fall in love with them all over in a very real way.

They weren’t much older than me, but they wore the awesome clothes, shoes and handbags and they had great jobs…IN NEW YORK and other ridiculously expensive places.

I wanted nothing more than to one day be able to attain enough professional success, and effortless, classic style so I could land in Lucky’s pages.

I’m 30, and I look at those pages in a different way. I’ve managed to work my way up from grinding as an editorial intern, a metro desk reporter, to a web editor, and I guess you could say, hey throw on an outfit and Lucky, where’s my close up?

But, I look in the pages and now I see these uber fabulous women who are younger than me. I’m jealous again. But knowing fabulous women personally, and being one myself, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s frustrating and difficult. The expectations fabulous women place on themselves are enough to cause permanent scoliosis. There is pressure, there is wanting to stay ahead of the curve and the fear of falling behind and never being able to catch up. There is keeping up the appearances. Making others happy, staying sane, proving you deserve everything you’ve got and everything else you’re trying to get. They are duty bound to their loved ones, they are leaders in what they do.

I take nothing from the gals who grace those pages. I’m certain they had to work very hard, but as I reflect on my career, and my closet (which doesn’t have that many luxury brands, but is still friggin fab) , I’m wondering, am I a Lucky girl?

Did I do enough? There are some over 30’s in the magazine, don’t get me wrong. But seeing 27-year-old powerhouses who still have early 20’s bodies and dream jobs, luxury apartments, etc. it makes me feel some kind of way.

When you feel like you’ve hit a rut, even the most supportive people in the world like me tend to lose it when they see people who are too fabulous to be true. A friend emailed me an amazing article in Apartment Therapy about this stunning woman who had an insanely awesome apartment in a chic area of Northern Virginia. Something about it kind of sent me in a funk.

Then, one of my best friends, who was in a funk, just whisked herself away to a resort out of the country for the last 7 days.

I am jealous of these people. I just am. Keep in mind, in comparison to other people I know, I’m blessed beyond ridiculous belief. I can afford to live on my own, and even though I had to suffer a pay cut last year, I’m still able to pay my bills comfortably– something I could not do two years ago, for sure. I’ve rebuilt my credit. I actually have a credit card again and I know how to use it properly now.

I don’t have to take care of any children or anything like that.

I know with more money or with more anything, one has even more stresses and responsibilities, but there are days where being the Lucky girl seems so far away.

On the flip side, the current economic climate isn’t a joke. I’m well aware, which makes my bellyaching sound so self-indulgent and insensitive to the millions of people who are unemployed and working very hard to really get their lives going. There are so many young people coming out of colleges and universities to a very bleak situation. I have friends with multiple degrees, struggling.

Ask any of them, and I’m sure they’d slap me for this woe-filled post of rambling.

Bi*&^, you are a Lucky Girl. Shut up.

I am a Lucky girl. I don’t need a fancy title or to be a 20-something with a multimillion dollar startup and $500 pumps.

I am where I am right now. And that needs to be ok. It’s fine to keep dreaming and to keep striving, but to keep beating myself up, because I drive a 13-year-old car, I rent an apartment in an area that is increasingly annoying me (the smell of weed wafted into my place last night), or going nuts over and over about my current job. It’s exhausting.

And the college girl who looked at those magazines and dreamed would probably be in awe of the 30-year-old writing this post right now. She’d probably be thrilled that we actually made it this far and not figuring out which relative to ask for money this month because she asked so-and-so last month.

I’ve come a long way, and for that and nothing else,

I am a Lucky girl.

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