Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Is What It Means to End

Sixty-eight days from now—assuming all goes well—I will be graduating with my masters in social work. That’s nine more weeks of course-work. Seven more weeks of therapy clients. And then, it’s done.
This season of graduate school.
This season of living below the poverty line.
This season of Jeremy working ridiculous hours to support us.
It will all be over.

And I’m overjoyed.
But I can’t say goodbye to the hard parts of this season without also parting ways with some of the good parts. That always catches me a bit off-guard. There's always grief associated with change. Even good change. It's a death of the way things used to be. Which is quite a paradox, isn't it?

Like, being a student. I’m going to miss being a student.

I love school. I love learning. I love showing up to a classroom (in which I am not expected to teach) and just soaking up the information. I love keeping my brain “on its toes.” Being challenged. Pushed. Stretched. Academia can have a certain thrill to it, especially when it’s a subject you care about. Or the content you’re learning about in class is playing out in real-time on the news. There’s always more to know and I think it's easy to get complacent where learning is not part of your job requirements. 

There are also perks to being a student. Like student discounts. Free bus and train passes. Free food on-campus. I’ve taken a dozen boxes of pizza home at a time, bagged up those portions into freezer bags, and eaten that stuff for weeks. There are perks like knowing you belong on campus at hockey games and the library and the fitness center. For a short moment in a school’s history, you are a student with full access to tenured professors and expensive journal articles.

I’m going to miss being an intern.

There’s this love-hate relationship between only being an intern and just being an intern. In one way, it’s a bummer that you’re not getting paid to do valuable work. In another way, if you make a mistake, you are—after all—“just an intern” and there’s someone to kindly get you back on-track. Interns get a certain level of license to misstep and “get it wrong.” Sitting with my “boss” and being encouraged to express insecurity and uncertainty is priceless. I can’t express how valuable that has been this past year.

I’m going to miss Christmas vacation and spring break and summer vacation. Yeah, that was nice while it lasted. In general, I just appreciate the variety and flexibility to my days. It's hard to get monotonous when your classes change each quarter.

Isn’t it interesting that as long as we may wish/long/thirst for one season to end, we still grieve for pieces of that same exact season?


There’s this song that always feels right at times like this. It’s by Sara Groves. She alludes to the story in the Bible about the Israelites. They were rescued from slavery under the rule of King Pharoah in Egypt, but they eventually found themselves complaining about freedom, because walking around in the dessert was also hard.

Life is rarely “either/or.”
It’s almost always “both/and.”

It’s easy to think things will be so much better “over there”
Because this thing is so hard.

But it’s all relative, isn’t it. We can complain about the weather in January and in July. It really doesn’t matter. We will usually always find something to whine about.

 I'm trying be here all here now.

Painting Pictures of Egypt
Sara Groves 

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me either way
And the places I long for the most
are the places where I’ve been
They’re calling out to me like a lost friend

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much

And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
It wasn’t milk or honey
But then, neither it this

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard and I wanna go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
A million things are never easy to discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the promise and the things I know

If it comes too quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

If it comes too quick
I may not recognize it

Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?