Do not quit.

Today, I woke up to realize only five weeks remain in what is, so far, my most difficult semester of grad school yet. Being here — in this position, at this time — reminds me of what it’s like to feel the finish line coming from my seat on a dragon boat.

A couple springs ago, I spent a season on a dragon boat team and a day competing in the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Races. For those who haven’t “dragon boated,” it’s kind of an art form to paddle in synch with 19 other people. It’s exhilirating. And exhausting. The easy part — once you’ve trained — is starting strong. The hard part is staying strong for the rest of the race. Your job is to throw that arm into the air and put the paddle back in the water, over and over and over like everyone else. You get splashed. You get blisters. Your whole body hurts.

In a race in the Garrison Channel, I could feel the finish line coming. I paddled. And when the only thing everything in me wanted to do was stop, I started to chant.

Do.

Not.

Quit.

It started in my head.

Do.

Not.

Quit. 

I whispered it.

Do.

Not.

Quit.

I said it out loud, one word for every time my paddle hit the water. Seconds later, the race was over.

Five more weeks ’til winter break. I think it’s time to chant.

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