Well, it happened. I graduated with my Masters in Counseling Psychology yesterday with an amazing group of women. You would think that I would be excited about all the free time I will have now. Instead I have such a mixed bag of feelings that relaxing into leisure time just doesn’t feel quite right yet. My mixed feelings began in our last quarter. I was nervous as I knew my time with my cohort, and receiving academic support from professors, was coming to an end. I was excited about the free time I would have in 3 months. I was worried that I wasn’t skilled enough in my field, and that I would soon have less consultation. The last day of class I felt more sadness and uncertainly. I wondered if the paths of my cohort and I would cross again. However, the days between the last class and graduation day helped me ease into this transition.
Graduation day was surreal for me. All the emotions I felt throughout the quarter hit me hard, and I felt pangs of anxiety throughout the ceremony.”Wait, is this really happening?” That thought sat with me as I remembered the day that I decided to take a chance and apply to the program, and was now about to graduate. It wasn’t so much the act of graduating that was intense, it was the tangible experience of having an idea of what I want for myself, committing to the work it demanded, and crossing the finish line to receive what I originally set out for. The reality that I could have an idea and see it to fruition hit me with such clarity. I realized that I truly can do anything I choose to do. Anything.
I also couldn’t help but also notice how much my family influenced my dedication to school. I come from a very hardworking family where my father commonly worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week. My mother would wake up early in the morning to cook breakfast and lunch for my father, go to work, then come home to make dinner and run the home. Most of my siblings are hard workers too. As kids most of them woke up before day-break to work the fields. As adults they continue to be great workers who take pride in the work they do. This attitude towards work definitely shows up in my ability to do the work that needs to be done. Grad school alone is demanding, however, I also had to work full-time to keep a roof over my head. Although it was hard, I had an understanding that this was simply what I had to do if I wanted my degree. I was willing to do the hard work, even though I wished I didn’t have to. I credit my family for my ability to take on tough demands, and I am thankful for that.
These last two years weren’t easy. Two of my brother’s passed away and I packed in more types of support groups to help me through tough times (ya’ know, with all that spare time I had). I faced a lot of demons and grew in some ways, and felt stunted in others. As a counselor my life experiences keep my heart open and my feet on the ground. In general, I see my experiences as a way to keep me in line with my belief that we are all humans trying to do this “life” thing.
When I think back to the first quarter of grad school, it feels like so long ago. I feel I was such a different person then. I also try to remember why I wanted this degree. What was my passion? What was my motivation and vision? School focuses so much on the technicalities, that it can lack a lot of soul. After two-years of study I feel like I lost some of my spiritual aspects of practice as my brain wants to run things more. Trust me, that isn’t good. So I am looking forward to re-connecting with my heart, intuition, and spirit as I know these aspects are what help in the healing process.
So I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn, grow, and heal. I am grateful for the blending of mind and spirit. I am grateful for meeting new people and building a network of support. I am grateful for this new chapter in my life.