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Barreling towards graduation

By Amy Nielsen

Is that a freight train or blue sky the end of the tunnel?

It feels odd to say that I have finished my graduation requirements for school, but there you have it. I have finished them. I still have three weeks of school and one test left, but all of my circles are green and the little cap is highlighted. Yeah go me!

So, now what?

I need to shift my focus and decide if the light at the end of the tunnel I have been living in for the last year is the blue sky or if it is the oncoming train.

Until now, the deadline of May and graduation wasn’t such a big deal, it was still winter. Graduation was in May, in the spring. Well, yesterday was April first, and it snowed, so I guess spring and May are not going to coincide this year. The light felt like blue sky awaiting me all cold, snowy, New York-winter, long.

Now that it is April, graduation suddenly feels like a very large freight train.

If I use the analogy of the freight train I can tackle one car at a time and clear the track for the luxury liner coming into the station. Maybe that’s a bit much, but you get the idea.

The first freight I have to unpack is the fuel for this monster, which is the rest of the school work I still have to complete for the other certificates I am working on. I am three, long lessons away from completion on my other major program.

I need to get this one out of the way first as it has a more pressing time deadline. It must be completed by the end of June. The smaller program has more work to be done on it but the assignments are easier for me to write, so, I feel like I can still complete that certificate in the time allotted.

Next is a passenger car. I need to decide if I am going to teach a class in May or wait until June when the summer crowd is upon us. I need to gather more resources and find a location where I can teach my classes. I also need to decide if I am going to continue to split my services north and south or if I am going to concentrate them in the southern town where I hope to be working with community organizers.

This sounds like a no brainer, but there are funding issues to be considered too. I also need to connect with local experts and set up meetings to discuss summer plans.

Onto the baggage car. Working through school in the health and wellness field means you get an automatic membership into the disease and cure of the month club. You can’t help it. Health students seem to either fall into feeling like they have every disease they study or that they have become the perfect practitioner of every art they learn.

I have found that I now have a lot of half habits I have picked up over the year, specifically the parts of practices that I like. I usually disregard the hard parts. Any beginning student does it. I need to choose the one thing in each area of learning I really feel the most drawn to and decide what I want to study deeper study and actually teaching. I need to unpack the skills I want to continue with and send the rest on to another station.

Woof that was hard. I hope the next car is lighter.

Drat, the next car is a heavier load for me, but perhaps it is the caboose and that is why. The caboose marks the choice of starting my business or finding employment.

I am working switches on both sides of the track, and giving myself time to push this car to the side track for the moment. That is not to say that I am not working through hard decisions of what kind of business to register, how to structure my billing, or crafting my exact title.

But if I am lucky enough to get hired by my county, as I hope to be, then I don’t want to have spent a whole lot of capital on filing fees or trademarking my business name and not use them. So I can do the research and work out the details and put them back in the train car neatly on its side track. Parked.

By tackling each car one step at a time, I can make sure I complete the remaining parts of this process done before my deadline in August, before the end of the tunnel appears. This tunnel has been long and hard, and at times, dark, twisty and windy.

But I am now ready to bring the last few cars into the station and walk out into the sun of a new career. Once you take the train out of the station and head into the tunnel, sometimes it is hard to remember you are the engineer. You have control of the breaks and the switches. You can direct your train to the blue sky that awaits at the end of the tunnel.

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