I finished the coursework for my MBA program last night, and this morning I woke up to a world bright with the hope of new possibilities and the joy of fulfilled goals. I’ve run cross country and conquered half marathons but even that type of training can’t compare to the three and a half years of constant concentration and sheer will that led to me today. I’ve never fought so hard to accomplish anything, and no achievement has ever felt quite like this.

It makes me emotional to think about it, in a sort of melodramatic, introspective way that often takes me over at times like this. It makes me wonder what my teenage self would think about my 27-year-old life. I’m sure she would be wholly unimpressed by the largely conventional life I’m living now—husband, home in the suburbs, 9-5 job. I always dreamed I’d be living in a big city and doing something very creative. But I think, at its heart, that what I’ve always hoped most for myself is to find a way to carve out a little piece of the earth and claim it as my own, giving it life through friends and family and light through creativity and passion. I hoped I’d figure out what I wanted, and then pursue it without abandon. I hoped I’d have a love I’d walk to the ends of the earth for. My life is not remarkable, but I have achieved all of these things, and so I have bounties beyond my imagination. My cup runneth over. (I told you I was feeling dramatic!)

It’s strange how the achievement of one goal can make you feel like the skies have opened and your life is different. I don’t even have my diploma yet. But I feel different on the inside, lighter, stronger, more self-assured. I feel elated with accomplishment, and that feeling almost means more than the accomplishment itself.

But I still want the diploma.

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