I’m 22 weeks pregnant with baby number 4 (a girl!), and so I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make 2017 the best year yet. One of those things I’ve been thinking about is where I’ve been. That’s why when Cents of Style announced they were looking for Fashion Friday stories to accompany a deal on their Inspirational Graphic T-Shirts, I signed up. I chose to wear the “You Can Do Hard Things” shirt. I’m kind of surprised my regular jeans are still fitting me, usually at this point in a pregnancy, I have to saddle up with the saggy baggy maternity jeans brigade. This year is about reclaiming and rebuilding for me. That involves coming out of a sequence of years where I did a lot of hard things.
In fact, I spent a lot of years doing hard things. It’s important to remember that I got through those hard things – and came out stronger for it. I graduated from high school early and started college in what would have been the spring semester of my junior year of high school. Then, like many 18 year old girls, who think they know everything, I was in a hurry to grow up. So, I got married. That didn’t last long. It wasn’t a good relationship, and I left – after a split lip for Christmas, a broken nose for Valentine’s day, and a heck of a lot of bruises between then and when I left 5 months later. Not long after, I learned I was going to be a mom, and 3 months before my 21st birthday, there I was, starting a life with a small person – going it alone as single momma. Believe me, I did a lot of hard things in my 20s. I worked full time at one job while going to college full time as a philosophy major – and – I worked part time as a logic tutor. I honestly do not know how I did it.
I managed to get an award for being an active member of my community, take on a roll as treasurer of my honors society, Phi Sigma Tau, host open mic poetry nights at my workplace, and of course raise a kid. I graduated with my BA – with honors in the major – and applied to graduate school. Those were some tough years, but I graduated college with a 3.8 GPA
Philosophy, if you don’t know, is a traditionally male-dominated field. Being a woman in philosophy really is not for the weak. There’s still a lot of the “old boys” club mentality that goes on. So, when I got to my Master’s program, I really wasn’t surprised by the fact that I was one of four women entering to join two other women in the department. The rest of the 30-odd students were men. Even so, I rose up to the challenge the departmental makeup presented, and finished my degree in 2 years, with a 3.35 GPA
When I joined my Ph.D. program, the stakes were even higher, even though there were more women in the department. On the home front, my very bright 8 year old was having a very rough time at his school, and I made the decision to pull him out and homeschool him – as a single parent in an intense Ph.D. program. I continued to do well in the program (3.8 overall GPA), but had another hard decision to make. I got in trouble for “working too much.” The graduate student union had a rule about working more than 30 hours – and I was working as a TA and an RA in another department. I was doing so because the stipend for being a TA was low, and I still had work study monies left over. I was at risk for losing my TA-ship, which would have meant taking out more student loans to finish than I was comfortable with. On top of that, I was getting weary from the pressure to be at all departmental functions when it was difficult to afford a babysitter for all of them. Plus, I had a lot of pressure coming from back in California to hurry up and finish and go back to California. And, I was tired. So being tired, burned out, and worn down, I made a decision I still question from time to time. I left my Ph.D. program the semester before I was supposed to finish taking my comps.
After I left, it was 2008. The economy was flailing. I applied to over 200 jobs. Over 200. I had an MA degree and most of a Ph.D. Can you guess how many interviews I had?
0. I had 0 interviews. The job market was that competitive. So, I looked at my kiddo and took a deep breath and made another hard decision: I decided to start my own writing and editing business. And the rest is history, sort of. I got into another nasty relationship that left me with PTSD. Then…I met my now husband, we added to our family, moved across the country, and added to our family some more.
And now…here I am, in the house we bought, and I’m working on reclaiming that fierce woman who did all that hard stuff – and more hard stuff I’m probably not even writing about here because, hello, this is a blog, not a book. “Reclaiming” is my word for 2017. “Reclaiming” because after you do a lot of hard stuff, you get tired. After 2 babies and with a 3rd pregnancy, it’s time to revamp my wardrobe, get new makeup, pay more attention to my hair – fix my piercings (my nose piercing closed!) and take steps to feel more fabulous. This momma of almost 4 is tired! SO…to do that, i’m still going to have to do some hard things – give birth, continue putting my businesses together and building, get our home organized, and keep going.
If you need a reminder that you too can do hard things, or you’d like to check out the various other inspirational graphic tees available at Cents of Style, click here (affiliate link). The tee-shirt is so super soft and comfy – and fit over my pregnant belly just fine.
*I was provided with the t-shirt by Cents of Style in exchange for writing my story.