Thursday, September 22, 2011

Role Models

I've come to the conclusion that when the going gets tough, the tough find role models that can provide that extra bit of incentive and support to achieve one's goals--and then they get going. Recently, I've been feeling kind of overwhelmed by life, particularly by the demands that my academic pursuits have been making on my time.

For those of you who have been around since the beginning, the fact that I am simultaneously pursuing both an undergraduate and graduate degree comes as no surprise. For those of you that know me personally, the fact that I am on an accelerated track for both degrees is also not new information. For anyone with a bit of common sense, the fact that I am struggling and under some pretty intense stress should not blow you out of the water.

As a result of this academic (and many-other-factors induced overload), I've been floundering a bit. For most of my life, I have been largely intrinsically motivated. I choose to do and pursue things that I am passionate about because accomplishing those acts makes ME happy. There was a substantial period in my life where I struggled with the lose-lose reality of pursuing not-quite-passions because I believed that they would make other people happy, and thereby make me happy; it turns out my theory was horribly wrong in that regard.

And I'll be honest: history and teaching do make me happy. In fact, they are two of the things in my life that I am most passionate about (if there is confusion on this point, I refer you to why I started the blog in the first place...); however, lately I've realized that my personal fulfillment in the pursuit of an undergraduate and graduate degree is hardly cutting it anymore. I feel as if sometimes my workload is isolating me from the relationships that will make my eventual achievement of these goals enjoyable. Sometimes I feel like Hermione Granger.

No...I'm not kidding. If you want a better understanding of why I identify with a fictional character, read this; maybe then you'll understand. To me, Hermione Granger is an inspiration of sorts; the girl who didn't let anything get in the way of her voracious academic pursuits; the girl who wasn't afraid to fight for her dreams and what she believed in; the girl who valued her friendships above all else; the girl that I grew up idolizing. Yes, Hermione Granger has been and always will be a role model to me as a still-trying-to-find-my-way, at times graceless, yet well intention-ed young adult. With some of the stuff that I have been dealing with in the past few months, having a role model like Hermione has provided me with a model of how to keep on in the face of adversity and challenge.

That's not to say that all of my role models exist in the fictional realm. I am so unbelievably blessed to have an extraordinarily high number of impressive and commendable individuals in my life after whom I can model my own actions and choices, as well as rely on for support. And since my life has kicked into high gear recently, that support has been indispensable. So I would like to say a thank you to a few people whom have remained steadfast in their support, compassion, love and inspiration in recent months. Your companionship and dignity with which you live your lives continues to amaze me, and makes everything that I am working towards that much richer.

To my mom: I love you and you are truly one of the strongest women and supporters that I know. I don't know where I would be without you in my life.

To my adopted grandfather and mentor: your kindness helped a very lost little girl find her voice and her way, and I look up to you in more ways than you will ever know. Thank you for taking this fellow Yank under your wing, and teaching by example that a little bit of compassion, humility, laughter and common sense can take you far in this world.

To my beautiful cousins and sister: each of you have inspired me in unique and varied ways to try and be the best person that I can be. Each of you are veritable fonts of strength, grace, compassion and fun, and I am constantly amazed and humbled by the women you have turned out to be.

To the three musketeers: it always comes back to you. You are the rocks at the center of everything I do, and I know that we can face anything together and come out stronger for it.

To the family that I have chosen: friendship does not even begin to cover what I have with each and every one of you. Celebrating life's little moments and pleasures with you, whether it is a rich cup of coffee, or one another's triumphs and achievements, has left an indelible print on my heart.

It is with and because of each of you that the stress becomes manageable and the rewards become richer and the memories become stronger. You are the true role models that are helping me get through the overwhelming stress that enable me to keep my head in the game, channel my inner Hermione Granger, and face each challenge head on with no fear and the sweet taste of satisfaction. Thank you, and I love all of you.

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