When I decided to go back to graduate school in pursuit of my PhD, I envisioned new friends and stimulating, intellectual conversations. I envisioned research teams and teaching and taking classes. What I underestimated, though, was how much time I would be spending alone at my computer.
The PhD path can be challenging, rewarding, and... lonely.
The only way that I know to stay motivated over the long haul is to keep my gaze firmly fixed on my Why. My reason for wanting to do that in the first place.
There are as many variations on the Why as there are graduate students.
Anyway, my Why goes something like this.
I once earned my Masters in Social Work and thought I was embarking on my lifelong career path. I had been personally helped by a therapist, and I wanted to be a therapist who helped others. Besides that, I liked listening. I was genuinely and compassionately curious about people's lives. I felt like bearing witness to people's struggles, triumphs, and pains was a privilege, andI wanted to help people heal.
I was not entirely wrong.
I was not entirely right, either.
What I found is that when you're a social worker/therapist, you are operating within various systems of care. And in the years between earning my MSW and deciding to go back to school, those systems of care began to erode. I went from feeling like I was helping, to feeling like I wasn't helping, to feeling like I was part of the problem.
Still, I found that I cared deeply about the same subjects which had been my focus as a social worker/therapist. Mental/emotional/relationship wellness. Trauma recovery. Suicide prevention.
I thought about returning for a doctorate in social work, bu t decided I wanted another lens through which to see the issues I cared about. I found that lens in the Community Health Education branch of the field of Public Health.
This blog is my chance to share lessons learned in trenches, thoughts about future work, things I am learning in graduate school, and the direction my research is taking.
I hope it is a place for people who are also at the beginning of a PhD journey-- as well as people who want to help and are trying to figure out their own best way of doing so-- to say hello.
And so we begin.