A Personal Graduation

When I was a little girl, I had the dream of becoming a pediatrician. I knew I loved to help people and becoming a doctor for kids seemed like a logical choice at the time…

High school rolled around and I broadened my scope from pediatrician to any of the job titles from Grey’s Anatomy. I had no certain idea which career I wanted but I knew that I wanted to be in the Health Sciences, saving and changing lives. I guess now when I look back, setting my career path based on one of my favourite TV shows doesn’t always work out.

As much as I saw a medical degree in my future, with ‘Dr.’ in front of my name, life truly had other plans for me and I would have never forseen myself getting an Honours degree in Industrial Sociology. But here I am, holding 2 degrees under my belt and forging a career path that is completely different to what I imagined.

Of all my academic achievements, getting my Honours degree is by far the biggest one. Not because it’s a postgrad degree, but because the one year it took for me to get it was the closest to hell that I have experienced. It was a mental battle that truly required a whole new me, but if you have ever been through a really difficult moment in your life, you know that these times don’t last forever.

It really was the best news when I received my acceptance letter from UCT to study for my postgrad in 2017. The cherry on top of that sundae was getting a bursary based on my academic merit that covered a good portion of my tuition. I was all good to go at the start of 2018 but as soon as I attended Orientation Week, I was overwhelmed with how big UCT actually was and the throngs of people on Upper Campus. I have no social anxiety but on that day, all I wanted was to not be seen by anyone; and this feeling never left me from that day onwards. I thought joining a few societies would help me get used to dealing with a fresh group of people, but Honours was a academically intensive and I found myself socialising more with my coursework readers and library journals. It was a year of continuous reading, learning a ton of big words and feeling so small with other students who had a better sense of UCT than I did.

There were a number of external factors that had me seriously doubting my academic capabilities which eventually affected the way I viewed myself and my place in an Honours class at UCT. I was very close to giving up and calling it quits because the mental battle just seemed like it wasn’t ending. Honours was gruelling and I needed to take a lot of hard looks at myself in the mirror to keep my motivation above 0%.

But on the day of my graduation – 18 April 2019 – I knew that I had truly conquered my most difficult battle to date; wholeheartedly believing in myself and knowing that I deserve to be in the room when I am called to it. This is something I hope you will remember in your endevours – you deserve to be in the room where you have been called into. I did 8 courses last year and I managed to get 75% for half of them; I proved that I deserve to be in those rooms where I was called to be in. I passed my Honours with a 70% average; I proved that I deserved my place as a postgraduate student at UCT.

And so if you are reading this, I sincerely hope that whatever doubts you have about yourself, you will remember that you are entirely capable of achieving the things you set your mind to, that you are a valuable individual in whatever space you find yourself in, and that no matter how tough the current battle may seem, you will come out a better and stronger soldier.

I called this post “A Personal Graduation” because that’s exactly what it was. I competed with no one but myself. I did the best that I could possibly give. I worked on being better than I was in a previous course. And I had to continually rise up to every occassion that challenged me. My Honours year was personal, but I did it and I hope that whatever personal battle you face, you’ll know that you can do it too!

With all my love,

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