I must admit I didn’t think it would take me this long to adjust to grad school. Since I’ve been wearing different hats and juggling multicolored bowling pins as a micro-business owner for so long, I figured what’s one more hat and one more magical act to add to the performance of, “Look how well I’m keeping it together! So amazing!” Now, let me tell you, I’m a Virgo, and with Meyers Briggs testing, I come up as a P or a J depending on my mood that day. Most of the time, when it comes to careful decision making, I lean towards J. I say that to say I’m a planner. I did some research ya’ll!
I reached out and spoke with current and recent grad seminarians, I did mental exercises on all the reasons I should and shouldn’t, (I drove myself nutter butters in the process) and I casually observed the habits of my bestie who happened to be a mother and a full-time employee with chronic illness, balance all that was her life while getting her doctorate in nursing. She and so many other women gave me all kinds of inspiration and motivation. I even wrote out a schedule of my daily activities after slowing down enough to track and document what I did for a week. I anticipated that I’d need a little more pep in my step beyond my mental health peer support groups and sought out a new therapist. I was ready! And then…life happened. Sound familiar?
COVID, increase in eating, insomnia, navigating restless and uncertainty, and it’s the political version of American Gladiator season too. Living with my more vulnerable dear ones had translated into me taking physical distancing to the 1000th degree. Then, when opportunities to feel like I was contributing to the movement more than I had been, came up, like a good codependent, I jumped in.
Helping others is a great distraction to keep from dealing with yourself. I’m looking at you; fellow wounded healers.
Grief builds up in the body, lingering around like residue
struggling to subdue the rising feelings of overwhelm
and underwhelm at once. What a fragmented world,
for the fragmented souls we’ve become.
And so school, and unprocessed grief, awareness but not much relief. Committee meetings, papers, and colleagues wondering, “Annie, are you okay?”
Thank goodness for the tools of recovery.
You know, I get that people want to teach courses about resilience. When you learn something, and you have the heart to reduce suffering in the world, it’s what you do. However, and I could be way off base, resilience is one of those life lessons that truly come from the school of the hard-knock life. It’s one of those degree requirements you don’t want to take but is well earned. And you’re fully aware that you’ll have to take continuing ed refreshers for the rest of your life to maintain it.
There are no shortcuts, not for these kinds of tests. It’s mostly trial by fire, and you learn to get forged in such a way that you’re better equipped for what life will teach you on another rainy day.
As for me? I’m wearing the protective gear of a consistent prayer warrior now. And in the quiet of the night, before the sunbeams tickle my eyelids, when no coach, counselor, friend, strategist, or another well-meaning person can reach me via phone or Zoom, I can breathe again and let the seeds of wisdom take root. I can stop chasing my shine and not feel awful about how unproductive I’m being or how smart I sound when the camera is on. This stillness, this silence, this sacred pause is what is needed.
It’s what I need. And it has nothing to do with being introverted or an Enneagram 5 or whatever my desperate need to make sense out of the paradox that is life has me tinkering with at the moment.
And I must confess, it sure does take me a long time to come back home to myself.
But, I do know the way home.
Until Next Time…Peace!
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