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This Thing Called Grad School

Written in April 2017 after nine months of graduate school – never posted until now – for reasons slightly known and reasons also unknown. Anyhow, here’s to the journey …

I’m a school person.

I love school and papers and most classes. I love learning and engaging with others in academia and challenging my beliefs of the world. I admire the program I have graciously been given the opportunity to be a part.

But this journey thus far has been shattering. My heart has been ripped apart, put back together, and ripped apart again. I have loved the struggle and I have hated the struggle. It has been challenging for our marriage and at the same time strengthened and grown our marriage in ways I cannot express.

I don’t really know how to fully express my experience over the past eight months. In the midst of the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual challenge, I believe I have functioned pretty well. Then again, I have amazing support systems in my life! I’m not saying there haven’t been nights where I’ve dissolved into a puddle of tears or shrunk under the weight of sorrow and even anger. These times have been alive and well. But I’ve also been able to develop skills to process through the heavy, how to communicate where I am in the moment and what I need, how much to share with those outside of my graduate program – because sometimes more information is not helpful but can be rather damaging.

Not everyone chooses to dive into the dark places of our world and humanity, and that’s okay – after all, it’s a painful place to be and who am I to put such information on a person? But it also gives way to some of the most beautiful spaces I’ve encountered.

I’ve also learned how to better listen to what others need in my life. All in all, I’m learning balance, while becoming more and more engaged with this field of International Disaster Psychology.

You may be wondering, “What is International Disaster Psychology?” Good question. I’m not sure I have a full answer for you. Although sounding very specific, it is actually quite broad, with numerous options post-grad. The way it is described by the University of Denver is …

This degree is designed for those who wish to provide effective mental health and psychosocial services to individuals and communities in the US and globally who are affected by traumatic events, acute and chronic civil conflict, natural disasters, and health-related pandemics.

Sounds uplifting, huh? You’re right … it’s not. But it is fulfilling.

I wrote this post in Spring of 2017 and never published it. Probably because I didn’t think it was good enough. Words are difficult sometimes. This was a reflection after nine months of my grad program. I am now two full years through and have graduated. There are many more thoughts, struggles, and extreme growth to recount. But I’ll leave it here for now.

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