My First Day of 17th Grade

Remember the children who always brought their lunch in grade school?  No matter the occasion? Even on special lunch days? That child was me, and apparently still is, as last weekend I found myself in constant search of a microwave while the majority of my peers flocked to Moe's, Uno's, or the campus dining hall.

Somewhere between a search for a microwave and a parking spot began my graduate education. I am currently studying Social Work (online) and Human Sexuality. My Interpersonal Communication course began three weeks ago, but last weekend was the first in-person meeting with my Human Sexuality colleagues.

As per usual first day agendas, my Concepts in Human Sexuality course was no different, other than the fact that we would be meeting for 17 hours in one weekend. My classmates and I circuled up to introduce ourselves, our interests, and accomplishments.  From my undergraduate research in female sexuality and archival research of LGBTQ history on campus, to the writing I have published, interviews I have been fortunate enough to have my voice included in, and the opportunity to co-design and teach a human sexuality course, I realized I have accomplished a fair amount in my field for someone of my age.

After sharing my academic background and career goals/accomplishments aloud, I delved deeper. There was a point in my life when I failed to see my academic intelligence as a key-piece of my identity. A point when "I can't" and "I could never achieve that" were common vernacular. My undergraduate advisor’s support of my research, and ultimately, her belief in me as an individual, shifted that perspective.  This weekend, I experienced a similar realization with regard to my future.

In an off-the-whim database search at a library workshop, I found a gap. A research interest of mine that needs to be filled. There is no research, there is no voice, and I have an overwhelming desire to be there. I need to make myself present in that space. In translation, that means I am planning to pursue my PhD. I entered graduate school with the mindset that this journey would likely not be the conclusion of my education, but was unsure of which direction I needed to take. After this search, I at least have narrowed my path.

Not only does this program require its students to critically think and analyze content, but also feel. During our exercises, my classmates and I were given a sheet of "Feeling Words." We would go back and forth with one another describing how we felt after watching videos--using only words, as opposed to what we thought. Candidly, I began to apply some of those words to my personal life. 

Uncomfortable. I have been heavily weighted by things that I need to let go of. Mostly people, or more accurately, associated feelings I have held onto, raw emotion, blockages, attachments--all accumulated negative energy.  Indifferent. I am in a position in which I can say I have moved forward about 85%, but there is still lingering tension in thought. These thoughts find me on my yoga mat and occasionally wake me from sleep. Uneasy.

Quotes about healing have been populating my social media feeds lately. How healing is a process, and that it is never truly finished. The idea of healing as a continuum is new to me, but I feel as though its applications are integral for understanding how our minds work, especially in terms of trauma. I can forgive, move forward, and direct my energy into positive platforms, but I am still affected, I still feel, I've just evolved.

The same little girl who brought her lunch day, the one who wanted to be a teacher, is now a young woman who treks along campus with a different meal, and a more defined purpose. Evolve. Some habits may never change, but our experiences will shift our perspectives if we allow them the opportunity.