Masha Reko - Apprenticeship Blog

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. (Aristotle)

Day 24: When All is Said and Done

Today was my day off, but nevertheless an emotional one, so I thought I could share.

I jumped on a train to Kaiserslautern at 5am to go and finally present my thesis and get my Master’s degree. Then somewhere close to Stuttgart, in some random village, an accident happened and all trains stopped. We were stuck there for hours. I was on the verge of tears thinking how I will be the only person ever that didn’t attend their own thesis defense. But thankfully I managed to get to Kaiserslautern in time. I ran to the University as fast as I could. Almost got hit by a car, right in front of the building. I remember thinking at that moment: please just let me do this since I got this far, and then whatever.

I ran into the meeting room fighting for air, only to see a lot of people gathered there to watch me. Panic instantly started creeping in. Of course my fear of public speaking wouldn’t want to miss the party. The feeling was terrible. I was surrounded by so many people, and yet I have never felt so alone.

I took a moment to close my eyes and take a deep breath. I pictured my family and friends there, all the important people in my life, and I instantly felt empowered. Everything else faded away. And I did it. I did it for them.

For all those that marked my life and contributed to everything I grew to become.

For my heroes and role models, starting with Roger Federer whom I followed my whole childhood (and beyond) and from whom I gathered the inspiration to excel at everything I do. For Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Margaret Hamilton, who paved way for me, and many other women, to do what we love doing and be awesome at it.

For my teachers, coaches and mentors - in primary school, English courses, tennis/golf/skiing/basketball/fencing practices, high school, and of course University - who were great at their job and showed me that I, too, can become great - if I work hard enough.

For the employees at HolidayCheck, who gave me a chance to prove and improve myself every single day, and who in a very short time became such a significant part of my life.

For my friends, especially those three girls who have been there for me through thick and thin, victories and defeats, laughs and tears, ups and downs - for 13 years and counting. Lady Gaga said that there can be a hundred people in the room, and 99 don’t believe in you, but the one that does can change your whole life. I was even luckier, I guess. I had three!

For those I met during my bachelor studies, with whom I went through all the pressure and stress that come with studying engineering. Even though it felt like hell at the time, I now miss it greatly, realizing that those were some of the best years of my life.

For those I encountered during my Masters in Italy and Germany, coming from so many different countries and backgrounds, but nevertheless just the same as me when it comes to embracing this life and all it has to offer. For those with whom I spent numerous memorable days and just as many memorable nights, making me feel at home even though I was miles away from it. For those with whom I rushed down the mountain on skis, jumped in a freezing lake and walked on a frozen one, slept at the airport floor and underneath the stars, watched countless Netflix shows, listened to loud music on the dormitory balcony, snuck into the Verona colosseum with a choir group (and sang with them), got drunk when I should have studied, studied when I should have drank, climbed a volcano (by cable car) and the Eiffel Tower (on foot), sat in the middle of a highway, got lost in a rainforest and sunburnt in a desert, swam in an ocean, fell from a bike but not from a water banana, ate the best spaghetti in the world, and welcomed so many beautiful mornings.

For the many that made Bolzano even awesomer, and those few that made Kaiserslautern (at the very least) bearable.

For those that stayed, and those that left; for they both impacted my life in their own ways, and I wouldn’t be the same without either.

For my huge and amazing family, especially a couple of its members I just have to mention individually.

For my aunt, who always saw the potential in me that I sometimes failed to see myself. Thanks to her I took up software engineering, which has been the best life decision I’ve made to this date.

For my grandparents, the two twin pillars that have kept me standing from the very moment I was born. For these two wonderful people that celebrated my triumphs as if they were their own, but also never failed to support me whenever I had to pick myself up and start again.

For my dog, the goodest boy that ever was, who reached out his paw whenever I needed a hand.

For my siblings, who, although way younger than me, sometimes gave me wiser advice than any adult, and who always looked up to and believed in me, giving me a reason to believe in myself too.

For my stepfather, who never for a moment separated me from his biological family and loved me just as much; and for my stepmother, who grew to become one of my biggest fans.

For my father, who taught me that life should be about happiness, and that the job I do should help me achieve it, not take it away.

And finally, for my best friend, and the most amazing woman I know - my mother. The woman whose strength, love and sacrifice allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do and be whomever I wanted to be. No one else will ever come close to what she did for me. And even though there is no way I could ever repay her, how ashamed would I be to not even try.

Now that all is said and done, this degree is not only mine, nor I wish it to be. It belongs to all those that were a part of my journey, in whichever capacity. It belongs to all those that make me believe that - even when I am alone - I will never ever be lonely.

So cheers to graduating, and even better things yet to come!