Well friends, I’m a little older than I wanted to be, but I’m here.
I worked my ass literally off for 21 months (no really, I lost quite a bit of weight – HA), however, I’m not solely responsible for reaching this accomplishment, and it’s important to acknowledge the realities that got me to this point.
My parents sacrificed a lot to ensure that my upbringing was much easier than theirs, stability being a huge part of that. Family always surrounded me and we never had to move around.
I can’t be a public health graduate and ignore privilege. I understand the roots of this country and how it’s been quite a bit easier for someone like me to make such an accomplishment. Priv, particularly white priv, in America is a reality (and if you somehow still don’t think it is then, ugh, I don’t know, go read a book or something – people like you are unequivocally the most exhausting kind of people).
My blood, my ‘sqad’, and my friends – those who showed up – who wrote me letters from out of state – who called me when their gut feeling told them that I was about to lose my shit – those who picked me up of the literal ground and reminded me that it was time to SLAY.
Ironically, the school part was the easy part. In the five years between my degrees, no massive negative life-altering event happened. But in my 21-month program, it seemed like everything happened. Something life-altering occurred at the end of my first three semesters. These 21 months really tested my resilience.
A lot was lost.
(1) A 5-year relationship. Yikes – nothing more to add there. Ultimately, I became a lot happier and was able to focus on self-development. Dating my MPH was much more satisfying and I had a clear head. That was until…
(2) William – It’s all a blur, really. I remember the call and the drive home. I remember a house full of people. I remember drinking spiked seltzer’s with Grace through the night. I remember having no concept of time. I remember thinking I was going to fail out of school in my first semester. But my cohort didn’t let that happen. They got me on track, and went out of their way to teach me stats. I took an incomplete for quan and came out of that dark place with straight As for the first time in my life. I owe it to them.
(2.5) In many ways I lost my mom, and for a while I think she thought that I was all she had left. I didn’t understand the weight of that reality until a few months later.
(3) I lost my home. I was squatting next door in an apt that had no electricity while physically ill from black mold exposure. Thankfully during finals week, my wonderful friends down the street let me crash with them. 🥰 The instability made it really challenging to…
pull off straight As again. Like seriously how did this keep happening? LOL.
(4) We lost our matriarch, the notorious GramCracka. I like to think that we had a very special kind of relationship. I was her only grandchild, and she was my only grandparent left. When I lost her I lost my best friend, my biggest advocate, my partner in crime, my dinner date – and for the first time in my life, I felt that I lost a piece of myself. I remember the phone calls at 1am. I remember wailing. I remember laying there in bed begging myself to fall back asleep because I had an interview that morning. I remember getting ready in the morning as if nothing happened and going through the motions of that day like a stone, but sobbing the entire way home. I remember suppressing my grief to get through the end of the semester because I knew how this worked and what happened last time and I could not let anything get in the way of this god damn degree.
I recall asking the universe why I had to be tested so many times.
I recall receiving no answer because there is no answer.
There is no “things come in threes” or “god is testing me” or “this is a test for what is to come” – no, sorry, but no.
Life is life – and life is unkind and it is painful and it is trying and will kick your feet out from underneath of you and it is exhausting and it is confusing and it is blindsiding and it is exhilarating and it is wondrous and it is precious and it is f@$king wild and it is the only chance we have to leave a legacy and it can be over the instant we start to feel alive.
So what are you going to do with it? I know what I’m going to do with it.