The year you can officially call me Dr. Sullivan.
As a kid I thought it would be Dr. Kamisha. And no joke, the first time I understood in elementary school (probably learned this at a career day event) that a doctorate degree was one of the highest degrees a person could earn and it didn’t have to be in medicine- I thought…yeah that will be me. As a kid I was much more quick to shrug off difficulty and could imagine a fearless life.
In growing up I have become less outspoken with my dreams. Held them in more. Shared them less. Become more private. Mostly out of fear that I won’t actually follow my dreams, that they will be deferred, or that I will fail (all of which have happened).
This past Wednesday I met my doctorate cohort and attended my first class (5 to 10 pm the rest of the summer and the next three years!!). I love how diverse this group of folks is. Look for yourself, we represent many cultures, places, and experiences. Go Beach!
Before going to class I sat outside watching the shadows on the grass trying to calm myself down. I know that I get anxious. It is this very specific fear mixed with excitement. I have learned to focus on my breathing to keep the tears back. It hasn’t always worked. But my legs get shakey and palms get sweaty. You know those moments,
I can count mine on my fingers:
The first time I drove my car, alone, and experienced freedom on the road. I didn’t have a curfew in high school, but that left me in charge to decide when to go home and that was intimidating.
The minutes following the door to my dorm room closing, as my family drove away, it hit me that I had moved out and was starting college in San Francisco.
The pause before the airplane took off and the reality of spending a year abroad made me light headed and a little sick.
The moment I linked arms with my grandfather before walking out to the hundred or so guests waiting at our wedding. I was making a public commitment for life.
The drive out of SF, into Los Angeles with no job and no apartment but the knowledge that we were moving away from our city to be with our families.
The night before school starts, every fall, when I prepare my heart to greet a new group of students.
Each night I quietly rocked a newborn baby to sleep, whispering his or her name, feeling much smaller than I know I am.
The insecurities rise up inside. Those voices of not being able to do it. Along with the heavy heart that knows the challenge, the responsibility, and the risks involved. Each of those life decisions started with a first step. That first step is hard and scary and thrilling and unpredictable and worth it. I feel lucky to have so many memories to remind me that safe and easy is not always the best choice. Sacrifice is where I have discovered personal growth in abundance.