In a little, much-needed reflection, I’ve spent Christmas Day alone in my Upper West Side apartment. Pandora has been playing Christmas tunes all-day long, and my oven has been acting as a makeshift fireplace. Thankfully, this isn’t my only Christmas this year.
We are celebrating Christmas Day on Dec. 27 because that’s when my dad and I can both be home with mom and Rachel. We’re used to celebrating Christmas on a different day than most; it’s great for Santa too because its one less house he has to cram in his busy schedule on Dec. 25.
This year has been one amazing roller coaster. I never imagined I would be accepted to the graduate school of my dreams. Quite frankly, I didn’t even think I could graduate from Florida State University. I’ve gone from being born in a town of 2,000 people to living in a city of 8 million people. Now that I’m here, I’ve completely fallen in love with city life. There’s something strangely freeing about not needing a car. I live right at a train stop, and that train can take me all the way to the northern tip of Manhattan or all the way out to the airport in Queens.
There’s no way I could have made it here without the amazing support system I have. I remember crying on the phone with my parents when I was accepted to Columbia. I remember living with my grandparents over the summer in rural Alabama. I love talking on the phone nonstop with my little sister. It’s pretty undeniable—no matter how dysfunctional my family is (and, believe me, we pretty much take the cake), I couldn’t be half the person I am today without them.
During the Christmas season, there is so much to do. I went to the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree; it’s absolutely beautiful. Yesterday, Christmas Eve, it snowed! Luckily, it wasn’t cold enough for the snow to stick and get slushy and nasty on the ground. There’s a good chance I’ll come home from Florida around New Year’s Eve to see snow on the ground. The temperatures are supposed to drop pretty significantly over the next few days.
This year has been one I’ll never be able to forget. Now, I’ll probably forget some of what I’ve learned (that’s what happens when you go to school), but I’ll never forget the people who have made it amazing. It doesn’t even feel like I could have been in undergrad at all this year, but it wasn’t even eight months ago that I graduated from Florida State University.
Then I spent the summer bonding with and learning from my amazing grandparents in a tiny town in Alabama. I did a little bit of work there for the local, hometown paper called the Fairhope Courier, but it wasn’t anything big.
We threw my grandparents a surprise 85th birthday party in July. There were almost 85 people there, we rented out a big party room and I put together a video celebrating everything they’ve done for all of us over the years. I still don’t think they know how much they’ve done—just by being there—for us over the years.
My grandfather in particular; he’s not one to be overly emotional. I don’t mean to say he doesn’t show his love because, believe you me, he does, but most of his time is spent in his chair. Over the summer, he and I had some of the most amazing bonding time we’ve ever had. “You’ve got to be humble,” he told me countless times; “Humility is the most important thing you can have for yourself.”
My older sister met, and fell in love with, a great guy (we’ll try not to hold his love for Auburn University against him). He’s probably the best thing to happen in her life in the past two years. We’re all so glad to welcome him to the craziness… err, I mean welcome him to the family. Well, I guess those are the same thing.
Then I moved to New York City. I knew it would be an amazing adventure—perhaps the greatest of my life so far. What I didn’t know was the amazing level of education I would be getting, the amazing people I would meet or the amazing things this city has to offer to anyone. I can’t believe I’m halfway to a master’s degree! Most ADHD-diagnosed folks can barely get a bachelor’s degree—only eight percent of those diagnosed with ADHD earn a college degree, compared to the 20 percent who go to college. Here I am not only getting a bachelor’s degree, but I was inducted into the Garnet and Gold Scholar Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, AND I’m halfway to a master’s degree.
Since August, I’ve met some of the most inspiring people in my life. We’re all on an adventure together, an adventure that, for some of us, changed drastically from what we expected. I’m talking to folks in Karachi, Pakistan about a job possibility after graduation! That’s the kind of globalization and prestige I work with at this school. Every single morning I’m in awe of what I’m doing. I find myself extremely lucky (and I mean, quite possibly, the luckiest ever) to be here, and I’m not going to spoil these opportunities.
As the year wraps up, Happy Christmas to you and your family. Even if you don’t celebrate this holiday, enjoy some quality time with those you love. You never know how long you’ll have with them. Happy Christmas, and an even happier new year! God bless you all!