Better to achieve goals late than never

By Helena Rodriguez: PNT columnist

Dear Family, friends, fans and foes:
You are cordially invited this twentieth day of May two thousand and five to celebrate a milestone in the life of Helena Amanda Rodriguez — her first all-out, no-holds nervous breakdown — at 4 o’clock today (We knew spelling out the dates and times would be the last straw to drive her over the edge. This is standard practice for all graduation announcements).
Actually, I didn’t graduate. My friends just took me out last Friday to pretend I did. Well actually, I kind of did. I completed all of my classwork last week for a Master of Arts degree in Communication, and in this hair-pulling process, I’ve earned the right to a full-fledged nervous breakdown. All I have to do now is complete my thesis and pass written and oral comprehensive exams next fall. (Sigh)!
Actually, my friends and I didn’t exactly celebrate either. We started off celebrating, then we called it an early night when we got depressed thinking of failed relationships. The story of my life.
One area that I haven’t failed in, though, is in achieving my goals, granted this usually happens about 10 years or so behind schedule. I feel like TV comedian George Lopez. On a recent episode, George goes off: “They said I’d never learn to read, and 12 years later, I did. … They said I’d never make manager, and 18 years later, I did…”
Gosh darn it, I’m accomplishing every one of my goals on God’s time, not my time, and it usually involves a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it all the more worthwhile.
The moral here is: Don’t give anything less than your 101 percent and don’t ever believe it’s too late. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone, to take risks and face ridicule, and most of all, to be humbled for a short-time as you begin to climb ahead.
My first goal was to make the “A” honor roll. That was during my sophomore year in high school. And 22 years later — by golly, I made the “A” honor roll. Actually, I made straight As last semester too but that doesn’t count. I only completed six hours. It means more this semester since I took nine hours, completing three demanding classes while also teaching two classes.
At midterm, I was upset about my one “B” and went to talk to my media criticism teacher. “What do I have to do to get an ‘A?’” I nagged Dr. Stasheff. He said something like: “Well, If I give you an ‘A’ now, then you’ll just try to cruise by the rest of the semester.” He was right. I worked my tail off, even overstudying for a test we technically couldn’t study for. It was critiquing a film of which we had no idea what it would be until test time. But I critiqued “The Man of La Mancha” from every possible angle, filling every page in my bluebook.
There were many times that I felt like giving up. I even tried to drop a class after midterm but couldn’t without losing my graduate assistantship, so I hung in there.
It took me 13 years to build the courage to quit my newspaper reporting career to earn a master’s. After this frustrating semester, I actually considered not pursuing my next goal, a doctoral degree. But now that I’ve had a week to catch my breath — keeping in mind I also have a major nervous breakdown scheduled for 4 o’clock today in which you are cordially invited — I’ve decided to pursue this next goal too.
Now there is another goal I made in high school that I have yet to fulfill; to be in a school play. I never got the nerve. Maybe I’ll accomplish that goal when I work on my Ph.D. I also had a goal to be married by age 30. Better change that to 40.
In the meantime, I encourage all of you students to hang in there one more week. Bust tail for finals and don’t settle for Bs and Cs when an A is within grasp. You’ll have plenty of time to celebrate later, even if it ends up being a crying party like mine. But that’s OK too, anything to get the stress out of your system.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at:
helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com