07 February 2013 09:09 PM Categories: Graduate school
Thursday. Less than 12 hours after walking through the door, one bus, BART, and walk journey complete, I head out for campus again at 8:00 a.m. I go to Assessment in Counseling at 9:35 and Theories of Counseling at 12:35, where I listen, take notes, talk with classmates, join a collaborative effort to figure out the variance and standard deviation for a set of test scores, pretend to be a psychoanalyst helping to interpret a classmate’s dream (with a small audience), watch illustrative videos, and surreptitiously scarf down a grilled cheese sandwich, a handful of blueberries, and a scattering of roasted almonds. By 3:30, I’m waiting at the campus bus stop, beginning my leisurely commute, finally reaching home around 5:00. So by this time on Thursday, after 9 hours of class in less than 24 hours, I have spent more time sitting under florescent lights in uncomfortable chairs than in sleeping in my own bed. I am fried. Worn. Scattered. I have to pull all the little pieces of me back together again, defrag my mind, my psyche, myself.
It isn’t just about the learning, about the difficulties of filling my head with too much information. It’s about self-doubt, being put on the spot, about the performing and group work that is apparently a feature of being a counselor, or of counseling education. I am not complaining. I am just saying that, for me, socializing, listening intently, and having to role play is exhausting and often gets right to the heart of my insecurities. Part of it is temperament. I am a major league introvert. Big time, one might say. I need time to recover from social interaction. I need time to digest information. I don’t do well being put on the spot. Apart from temperament, I also fight a fair amount of self-doubt, especially in the midst of already worrying about my ability to do, well, to do lots of things
Things like get a traineeship, a 12-16 hour a week unpaid gig for a local human services agency. Things like pulling off a halfway successful traineeship, being even a smidgen good at what I plan to do (and notice the term “pull off” suggests that it would have to be a trick, a fluke, unrelated to my skills or talents). I can keep these fears in check for the most part. It helps to talk to other people, unless it doesn’t – I must pick my audience wisely (thank you, Grace, Jennifer. S. and L.). From various conversations, I know that almost everyone feels similarly. And it will be ok. It will all be ok. We will all be ok.
As I was working myself up this afternoon, waiting for BART, ruminating and then stepping away from ruminating, I thought I don’t know what I am capable of, cue slightly melodramatic, self-pitying sigh, read the implied not much. But then I realized the profound nature of that phrase. I don’t know what am I capable of. I may be capable of a great many things, but I let my fear of finding out, of taking risks, get in the way. Sometimes, even after I take a risk, like entering graduate school and I do well at it, at least the academic part (see the nagging little voice of self doubt I have, divvying up my accomplishment), even then I can allow fear to paralyze me. Paralyze. Until I talk myself off the ledge again. Until I feel a communion with all those people, my classmates and others, who are in the same ambiguous boat, where it seems like the waves may overtake any second or that the boat might spring a leak, but we must keep sailing, moving through the water. We prepare for contingencies, we think about the future. We exist in the present and don’t over think the past. We can keep the boat sound and watertight and if a leak springs, we know what to do.
Ach. I’m taking the rest of tonight off. Tomorrow morning, I will print out resumes. I will read up on what I should ask of agencies and what they might ask of me. I’ll put on my nice clothes and take another trip across the Bay and the city to attend a traineeship fair and talk to my potential future trainers/employers. It will be fine. I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to claim that I know what I’m doing. I can say that I have an empathetic heart and a rational mind, that I feel for children in dire straits, that I have some experience with being almost broken, but I can separate it all out, be caring and wounded without letting the scars get in the way of openness. I will not confuse myself with others or others with myself. I won’t use mantras or overblown pep talks to plug the holes because I will assume wholeness. There will be no visualization of success. I will just be and, in the process, remain me.
Or so goes the plan.
Image: Our porch light, giving off the glow of a slightly mangled star.