What’s Happening Here?

Yesterday morning, I finished then emailed a paper to my human growth & development professor. The paper was 12 days late, which is fine, I’m sure, as he told us specifically that turning it in late wasn’t a big deal. We’re adults, after all, and sometimes stuff happens that’s more important than school.

I’m sure he meant work, family, emergencies, things of that nature. But over the past few weeks, I’ve realized something about myself. A significant change, in fact. I’ve struggled to force myself to do homework–write this paper, study for finals, finish up a slew of journals for my world lit class. I’ve sat in front of the computer and found that I have absolutely not been motivated to work at all.

Two separate times, I specifically made plans to go home and work on my paper (this was the week before the paper was actually due). Both times, I turned down invitations from friends . . . once, to go to a class at church, and the other time to go to dinner after church. Both times, I still never made it home to work on my paper. I ended up having really great, and needed, conversations with two separate friends. Significant conversations, even.

Other times, I knew I needed to work on my paper and made other plans anyway. Dinner with friends after church (no, I didn’t turn that invitation down a second time), hanging out at the Silver Chair, crafting with the Leisters. And other than the occassional twinge of guilt at not having finished my paper yet, I regret none of those times.

I’m at the end of my first semester of graduate school, and I’m finding that school has dropped really low on my list of important things. That’s never happened to me before. Ever. I’ve always managed to find a balance before, and only in rare moments before have I chosen friends over homework. Not anymore.

Thinking about this, I realize that I could have two responses to this situation:

A) I could repent and remind myself that it’s okay to say “no” to people; after all, we can always go to dinner in a few days when my homework is finished. School should be more important. And I need to be more focused.

B) I could thank God that I have so many people in my life whom I deeply love and want to spend time with. And obviously, those people are in my life for a reason, and if I truly desire community and relationships, then I need to remember that people are more important.

Obviously, there has to be a balance here, but I’m definitely swinging more toward option 2. Fortunately, my semester ends tomorrow with my human growth & development final exam. Then, I’ll have a month off from school (and two of those weeks, I’ll be off work). And when classes start again in January, maybe my motivation will have returned.

Still, I have to wonder what happened. For 17 years (kindergarten through college), school was my life. My raison d’etre. The year I took off between college and grad school was rough. I even took New England Writers last spring, partially because I missed school so much. So, truthfully, in the past 18 1/2 years, I’ve had one semester off from school, where I took no classes. All that to say–why don’t I care anymore? It doesn’t seem to be some kind of early senioritis or anything. More like my values have shifted, and when I have so much more . . .

Total revelation just now, in the middle of blogging: for the first time in a long time, I don’t need school to feel validated, to be fulfilled. My identity has moved beyond just being the smart girl. I no longer feel like I’m just the girl everyone hangs out with so they can get MLA or grammar help. Maybe, for the first time, I’ve accepted that there’s so much more to me than just good grades. And maybe everyone else realized it all along, and I’m just the last person to catch on.

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2 thoughts on “What’s Happening Here?

  1. Hope says:

    Thank God you wrote that last paragraph! I was getting to write it myself. School is a tool for life, not life itself. Haley Gambrell has a LIFE.

  2. Mary Fordham says:

    Wow…Haley, I am so proud of you! You are such an amazing person and always have been. I am glad that you are beginning to realize that your self-worth is not in school or simply that you are so intelligent! Although, I doubt life would be so interesting without your witty comments!
    Love you girl!

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