This year has definitely been one for the books. So much has happened and honestly I didn’t have the opportunity to write as much as I wanted to. I have to say that overall this year was better than last one and I am definitely grateful for that. There were only two bone-crushing, crippling, and anxiety producing heartbreaks. Which honestly is probably a miracle in itself because I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve more often than not. I received a brand new set of initials that I had been working long and hard on for the last six years. Finally finishing school and receiving a PhD was one of the highlights of the year. The sigh of relief that I had after my dissertation defense was an amazing feeling. I traveled to several countries that included the Dominican Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland, Aruba, Jamaica, Australia, Grand Cayman Islands, and Bahamas. I also presented at two professional conferences and got a job that I had been wanting for YEARS. I started a new career that I genuinely like. I moved across the country and met new people and learned more about myself in the process. I had the opportunity to do more couples therapy work which was challenging but enjoyable. After two years of traveling for work I decided to settle down for a bit and get my own place. I don’t regret it yet. Overall, it’s been a fairly productive year and I hope to do more in 2019.
I can across an interesting article that coincides with what I’ve been thinking hard about these past few days. It’s about black people and wealth disparities. You can read it here . As the product of two generations of a middle class family (grandparents and parents), I don’t have anything to show for all their hard work. No property, no trust fund, no assets. Just a crippling amount of student loan debt. And I know that I’m not the only one in this predicament. Growing up, my father worked and my mother stayed home to care for us. She decided that she wanted to raise her children and homeschool us so she did. As a result, we lived in a single income household. A phenomenon that I’m experiencing now with my household of one. There are so many things that I want to do now but I won’t be able to because of my financial obligations. Transitioning to teaching or a post-doctoral position would require a pay cut of about 20k to 40k per year and I can’t afford that. This year one of my goals is to become more financially literate and I’m working on it. However, I wish that I didn’t have to start from the bottom and if I ever make enough money to afford kids I want them to have a different experience. It’s like I’m starting off at a disadvantage and don’t have the opportunity to at least start at baseline. Definitely tough.
As my birthday draws a bit closer I thought I’d do a throwback story from way back in the vault on one of my first romantic interactions. Growing up, I was homeschooled so there wasn’t a lot of time for meaningful interactions with the opposite sex. While my parents were active in a church, dating was highly–and I mean HIGHLY discouraged. Needless to say, nothing notable happened on the romantic front during high school. Fast forward to the summer after my first semester of college. I did a youth scholarship program to raise money that consisted of going to the DMV area to sell books (door to door, parking lots, and businesses). While I learned a lot, it wasn’t easy being rejected on an hourly basis but I survived. I went with a group of other college students that included a few guys. There was one in particular who was interesting. He was very headstrong and not the most mature like many 18 or 19 year old freshman. Living with a group of people for two months straight has its pros and cons. We all got to know each other really well. The guy and I became pretty cool. Not close, but cool. We had some good conversations but nothing remotely romantic in nature. Fast forward to the end of the summer. The group disbands and we all go our separate ways. Not too long afterwards he contacted me. We talked for a while and then he confessed that he had had a crush on me during the summer when we worked together. He talked about wanting to get to know me better and spending more time together when we went back to campus in August. I was surprised but somewhat agreeable to the idea. He got off the phone with a promise to call the next day. The next days rolls around and I get a call from him as promised. This time it’s a very short call. He’s made a mistake and he’s sorry. He wants to take everything back about getting to know me better and doesn’t know why he said that but he still thinks I’m a good person.While it was surprising, it wasn’t crushing. I didn’t have much of a reaction. I pretty much said “have a nice life” and hung up. And as expected, I never heard from him again…
This week has been one of reflection. It’s not that I don’t usually reflect because that’s definitely not the case. As a classic overanalyzer (probably not a word), I have an abundance of reflecting and planning thoughts at the same time. One thing I remembered today is that I promised someone that I would give them the link to this blog but then I thought about how it could possibly skew their perception and decided to postpone it until a later date. After all, I am searchable and if they really wanted to find out beforehand they could. But I digress. I think I have found the perfect way to not get over jetlag. Travel 8 hours back (in timezones), hop off the plane and then immediately start a 72 hour night shift work week. It’s practically fail proof. I was recently in France for some school obligations and also some fun and I must say that it was a raging success. I definitely should have stayed longer than a week but it was a quick trip. After my wonderful adventure last summer, I wanted to try more international travel this year. Unfortunately this meant that I had to schedule most trips in the last six months of the year but as the year is coming to a close, it’s nice to know that there are a still a few places on my schedule. Outside of my school obligations that included sitting in various seminars during the day, I had the chance to explore some of Paris with a few friends who I (ironically) met in Spain. The fact that I was in the city last summer was nice because I had the chance to enjoy the experience a bit more without the need to take a picture of every single thing related to French culture or food. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time I was there and the food was exquisite. One very nice thing about the trip was that I actually had the opportunity to relax. For the longest time I thought that I just couldn’t relax but I discovered that I just have to go overseas to do it (go figure). The combination of good conversation, good wine, great friends, and an environment thousands of miles away from obligations was a wonderful experience and was just what the doctor ordered. I haven’t been that relaxed in years. Aside from one other thing, the highlight of my experience was traveling to Normandy and seeing some of the historic sites from WWII. We went to the American Cemetery and it was so sobering to see all the white crosses lined up of people who died at such a young age fighting to liberate a country that wasn’t their own. It felt overwhelming to think of all the parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles who had tearful goodbyes to their loved one who they would never see again because they died halfway across the world. Needless to say, seeing the beaches and the plaques and the American flags flying high was pretty thought provoking and reminded me of all the things that I sometimes take for granted. Driving on narrow roads and seeing the beautiful countryside was also memorable. It was the best trip I’ve taken this year and well worth the jet lag and sleepless nights. Can’t wait to go somewhere else.
Many of us had a subject in school in which the relationship between it and use could be characterized by the word “complicated.” For me, that subject was math. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that anyone is born hating math. I once read an article that asserted that hating math is a result of how we are raised and taught to do it. I remember learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables through memorization and songs. However, for some reason, my dislike for math seemed to deepen. It wasn’t until 11th grade that I realized I had a knack for creating a spreadsheet of a budget and calculating profit margins. This was a bright moment in my dark relationship with math. My experience with math was further complicated by the fact that while I was homeschooled, math was not a strong point with either of my parents. I did my high school education through a correspondence course. That meant that I got a math book and a workbook and I had to teach myself the concepts. This was an extremely hard thing to do as I got into advanced algebra and geometry. Even with the help of tutors it was not easy going. I managed to pass both classes with grades that probably should never be reported. It was a good thing that I managed to escape trigonometry, calculus and other higher level maths that most people have to take. It’s funny how certain things decrease in significance as we get older. I was genuinely stressed out by my algebra homework. Yet, after passing the class (thankfully), other than critical thinking skills, algebra is a thing of the past. I’m not tested on my ability to solve for x or any other operation that requires a lot of steps to solve. That’s why I think it’s so important to not make mountains out of molehills. You acknowledge it, you confront it, and you move on. Chances are the things you worried about ten years ago aren’t even relevant now and you wasted valuable energy that could have become something productive.
I’ve always been a fan of strategic procrastination but also getting things done in time and meeting deadlines. Recently I’ve been putting off some things that need to be done within the next six week or they will derail my educational goals. While I have been in school for the past few years, I can honestly say that it’s more of a necessary evil than anything else because I want the credentials for my chosen career field. So one of the reasons why I’m still procrastinating with getting some of this work done is because of thought distortions. That’s one great thing about being a therapist. I know when my thought patterns aren’t logical–but I digress. I’ve always been someone who lives in black or white. While I am fine functioning in the grey for clients or for professional reasons, it’s different on a personal level. So the thought (which is NOT logical by the way) is that by completing what I have to do I’ll also be shutting the door or saying goodbye forever to another dream of mine that may not end up being compatible with my current choices. As I start the process of overcoming the procrastination and finishing some of these tasks, I have the mental picture of making a coffin. Cutting and sanding the sides and making some intricate designs on the sides. This coffin will be used to bury a specific dream that will be gone away forever never to return. But I know that’s a thought distortion and that it’s not really true. It can be so easy to get caught up in those distortions and not take the time to actually challenge them and i am no exception to that. However, the truth of the matter is that I’m just going to have to push through it and get the work done. And I will. Because of all the things I play around with, my life isn’t one of them.
I ran into this article a few days ago and found it quite intriguing. I remembering people asking my mother questions about socialization and what we were missing in out in “real” school. While my social skills may not be the best known to man, I know plenty of kids who went to more traditional school and still exhibit a lack of social skills. Homeschooling gave me the freedom to do what I wanted (within reason). In a world where people are being taught the same thing, it’s nice to have the chance to think outside of the box. The thing about homeschooling is that it’s something that a lot of people do not understand. There is a societal expectation that children should be institutionalized between the hours of 8am to 3pm in order to learn the things they need to be able to succeed in life. The thought behind homeschooling is that learning can happen outside of those hours and that every kid is different and therefore they need more of a tailored educational plan. I was probably one of the annoying homeschoolers mentioned in the article growing up. I was a bookworm and somewhat of a know it all. Now, I will admit that homeschooled kids tend to stand out when compared to other kids. I’ve noticed it myself many times. However there’s something to be said about having an experience that many people have never had. Plus, I think that many times it is the un-homeschooled people who find homeschoolers annoying. But that’s just my opinion.
One thing that I’m working on this year is becoming more organized. I function in a state of organized chaos. I say chaos because looking in from the outside, one would never guess that the mess is organized. As someone who enjoys being busy, I am often involved in numerous small projects at once. Being in school adds another additional level of responsibilities as my classes are getting harder and it takes more time to actually complete assignments. While I’m perfectly content “B”-ing my way through the program, I want to start to apply myself more. BUT lately I’ve been doing better at managing time. It’s always nice to know that I’m being somewhat productive and working my way towards some goals that I have. There’s a lot that needs to happen this year according to my five year plan. One of the things that I like when I’m working with clients is when they have a plan as to what they want to do. I also like hanging out with people who know what they want out of life. Someone once said that we are the average of the top five people we spend the most time with. One of the things that I’m studying is how we are influenced by other people. All that being said, it’s good to hang out with organized and ambitious people because characteristics like that tend to rub off. Definitely the plan for this year. Carpe diem!
As some of you may know, I made the (somewhat) dumb decision of continuing my education after my post-graduate program. So now I’m doing a doctorate. I’m a little over a year in and while I’m not crazy about school, I’m doing it for a variety of reasons related to increasing my credibility as a professional. Getting married would have a similar effect but I don’t believe in counting eggs before they hatch so a doctorate it is. Schoolwork up to this point has been ok. I decided that after finishing college with a 3.7 cumulative GPA and finishing graduate school with a 3.9, I wasn’t going to worry as much about grades in this program. I don’t know of one person who brags on their doctorate program GPA. People just care that you finished. Plus, a 70 is a passing score. The biggest part of doing a doctorate is starting and completing a dissertation. Basically a huge research project where you study a topic in depth. Who hasn’t figured out a topic yet? Me. I would love to study something fun but getting a decent sample for qualitative research would be incredibly time consuming. I’m considering the quick and dirty route where I pick something fairly easy that does the trick without me having to overextend myself. But doing this would mean that I would do a fun dissertation on my next doctorate or masters in some off the wall random topic. So I’ve given myself a deadline of February next year to figure out a topic. I know it will have something to do with couples, relationships, therapy, consultation, and effectiveness but I’m not sure of all the details. A topic that I could write a book on might also be something worth considering. But that being said, I need to figure it out. Soon.
Recently I have come to the conclusion that I really really really hate school. At least the regular kind. This epiphany comes on the wake of realizing that I have total of over 29 pages to write in the next week or so. While I prefer these 12 week quarters to the 10 weeks that I had in graduate school, I still don’t want to do the work. One of the challenges of distance learning is that you have to be so disciplined because you don’t attend class every week. I think that my irritation with school comes from the fact that this is only my 5th consecutive year of traditional education. Being homeschooled, I had the freedom to learn what I wanted to learn without any restrictions or guidelines on how it should be done. My high school education was done through a correspondence course that included many of the typical subjects but all the tests were open book. No big deal. It was only in college that I actually had to learn to study in order to learn the information required to pass tests. However, after a certain point, tests were obsolete and all methods of examination were by essay. I remember a final exam that was six blank pages with one question per page and it was the expectation of the teacher that each page be full with writing as you answered the questions. I’m sure that my annoyance with school is partially due to the fact that I have a slight problem with procrastination. I say slight because although I don’t usually wait to the last minute, I still put it off more than I should. I have a lot of respect for people who have completed a doctorate and now I understand why so many people insist on being called by their title of “doctor.” That being said, I’m taking a break from school after this doctorate. A very long, and a very much needed break. That being said, let me return to this very large, endless, and pretty much pointless pile of papers to write.