Hello friends! Allow me to reintroduce myself. I’m Cam and I am a Master! For the last two years, grad school has been my life. I’m a natural learner. I love school so much that I’ve made it my career, and I’m really good at school!
I had no idea how hard grad school was going to be. All other facets of my life have taken a hit. My kids, my partner, my job, my home…they’ve all been branded by the demands of my choice to go to grad school. There’s been a lot of guilt involved. I’ve had to be incredibly selfish these last two years, and in my experience selfish is not a thing you want to be.
I feel like society has many expectations for women. Women should be sexy yet demure. Women should be confident yet humble. Women should be independent yet the push for marriage and motherhood is so prevalent in the media that it has its own movie genre. Women should give of themselves, should be classy and kind and appropriate in all situations. Women should kick ass and be strong and fight. But don’t get hit in the face because a woman can’t be ugly. And don’t get me started on what a woman’s body should look like. I don’t know how to be all of these things at one time. The perfectionist in me wants to, but the more I strive to be this woman, the more I realize it’s effing impossible.
As a rational woman, I know that I don’t have to believe in those expectations, but it’s so hard to escape such a deeply ingrained concept of what a woman is. The struggle is real, yo! It seems that while I work on one aspect of myself, other aspects suffer. For example, while I was in grad school, I gained 64 pounds. SIXTY FOUR POUNDS.
Yep, grad school makes you fat.
I mean, I guess it could be the fast food two nights a week or the sour licorice straws that provided the sugar rush that got me through reading academic journal articles. I guess it could be my choice of sleep over running and how I broke up with the gym. In addition to neglecting my partner and my children and my laundry, I neglected my “self”.
And I’m pissed.
I’m pissed I have to lose weight to begin with. I’m pissed that I’m not one of those people in love with my fat self. I want to blame societal influence and expectations. Why can’t being fat be a sign of wealth and prosperity again? Why can’t I just be heavy now? Why can’t I just love my body the way it is and be happy and drink beer and eat fries? Well, because it hurts. I don’t love my fat body because my body hurts. My back, my feet, my gut, it all hurts and I suspect it’s not healthy. I’m not in a position to take these risks with my health because I need to be a good example for my children. I need to be alive for my children.
I’m pissed I have to leave my kids to spend more time on me. I’ve already been doing that and I just got that time back! Hold on kids, Mommy needs more time to herself. But they’re watching me. I want them to know that taking care of yourself is important. I feel so much better when I exercise. It’s necessary for my mental health. So I bought a treadmill. I can run while my kids play. And they can run too. Unintentional benefit!
I’m pissed I let myself get like this. I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. This time two years ago, my body was strong. I could run and jump and do head stands. My clothes fit and I felt really, really good about the progress I had made. And now I have to start all over again.
Mostly, I’m even pissed that I feel pissed about all of this. I went to grad school and it was awesome. I’m now a more informed educator and parent with regards to education and how kids learn. My children got to watch me graduate with my Masters in Math and Science Education. They cheered and waved and they were proud of me. I feared they would resent me for leaving them two nights a week for two years. Instead, they celebrated.
My hope is that they understand that taking care of yourself, following your dreams, and reaching your potential isn’t selfish. It’s pride. It’s self-love. It’s necessary.
So I’m back at it. I have races to run and I’m looking forward to feeling better. I have friends to talk to and children to play with and a very neglected boyfriend to go on well-deserved dates with. I have a school year to plan and blog posts to write. And I’m going to selfishly enjoy all of it.