On this day, one year ago, I filed my pinche dissertation. Over the last month I have thinking a lot about where I was, spiritually, this time last year. My soul had been bruised deeply, but still I kept writing, kept reading, kept thinking, kept feeling. Read. Write. Read. Write. Everyday. Make the deadline. Cite the right books, articles, and arguments. Prove you are worthy of their approval.
Be the scholar they say you can’t be.
Be the activist-scholar they don’t want you to be.
Be the love you imagine it possible and necessary to be.
On my birthday last year, my friends pleaded with me to take a short break. “Even just two hours to celebrate over brunch!” I finally gave in. “But only for 2 hours!” I’d said. Manito C came to keep me company for a couple days. He read novels while I wrote. Friends who live far away called to check in on me, read my writing, helped me hold on to what I had earned. They are phenomenal.
All you need is a signature. The only way I finished was to write from the heart. I’m still learning how to do that.
On this day, one year ago, I became a Doctor. It was confirmed with the small, but not-so-small, email from my U, attached to which was a .pdf of a certificate saying I’d completed all the steps, jumped through all the hoops, checked off all the boxes big and small, to attain the degree. It was the most anti-climactic moment of my entire educational experience.
And then I slept for three weeks.
Today my friend and I were making small talk with a woman at a coffeeshop. She asked if I was a college student. Before I could reply, my friend said, no she’s a professor! Sometimes my friends are more excited about it than I am. I still feel weird saying I’m a professor. But I am one. The woman said I look “too young to be a professor.” Funny, my abuela said that to my profesora a few years ago. I guess professors are supposed to be stuffy white-haired old men with tweed, instead of spunky 30-something brown women in mini-skirt, hoop earrings and purple nail polish.
Healing is a long process. Along the way, I realized the process is as much about the events of the last year as it is the historia of my Self, and the recasting of my spirit from a stronger place, a place of love and community. I’m glad to be here, no longer there, moving toward where I want to be, and creating new stories.