It’s Social Work month tradition that I pop in from my administrative role and say hello in the best way possible; a Buzzfeed themed list. As it is SJS’s birthday, I always post on the ides of March, perhaps playing more towards my dramatic nature…or perhaps I do it so I can celebrate St. Patty’s Day without guilt. This year was difficult though, so much has occurred since last March, where could I possibly start? ‘Things I wish I knew before Moving to a Different Country?’ Things I wish I knew before Doing a PhD Part II- The revenge of the thesis? Okay, that one sounds cool and I might have to write that down. This year, might be more of a compilation of things I just really wish I knew for general use in school, teaching, work, etc.
- I’m not a morning person, nor a night owl, I’m just a perpetually exhausted pigeon
I have never related more to a meme than in the moment I read this one. Exhaustion, complete and utter fatigue that has become so much a part of me I couldn’t shed it anymore than I could shed my freckles. Living in Scotland, away from all of these social and family support systems(AND THE DOG) that I’ve had or developed over 30 years leaves a different type of tired. It’s wonderful here, truly, I’m simultaneously more relaxed than I have been in years(Yay Scots!), and so tired because I never realized how much took weight off my shoulder. It now sits perpetually on my shoulders. Mainly the right one, but that might be fencing+age=OW. It also doesn’t help that the UK seems to bypass all forms of safety laws surrounding caffeine- seriously, what do you put in your coffee, I’m like a lockjaw manic version of the Flash, except instead of solving crimes I’m deep-breathing and chugging water while speed-talking at four times the average speed as my usual NY paced jabber.
- You’ll fail at even your best talent from time to time
This isn’t meant to be a downer, just a warning or reminder that every once in a while, no matter how good you are, you won’t be able to reach that goal. For me this came about in the classroom, the space that is my temple. I’ve enjoyed roughly 4 years of teaching at a college and master’s level at various schools, the thrill of teaching, and seeing students of all areas, and all backgrounds be able to seize upon something they’re passionate about and that spark, well, there’s just nothing like it. I’ve always been very proud of my rapport with the classroom and those in it, I truly believed, and still do to almost 99% that there isn’t anyone that can’t learn, but that’s different from everyone able to be taught. Basically, I was just extremely disliked by an individual, certainly not the first time, definitely not the last, and while I won’t go into specifics, it still saddens be that the issue this person had with me meant that any attempt was seen through distrustful eyes, with contempt. It felt it as a failing that I couldn’t break down the wall, and that I had to leave it, because just like social work, you have to meet them where they’re at, and sometimes where they’re a is ‘not-ready’ or ‘pre-contemplation.’
- There are few things scarier than the blank screen
Thesis writing! OMG! Okay, so technically I’m just writing my board paper, which is the first hurdle and really the granting of permission to do my fieldwork based upon what is a proposal + backing 15,000 word paper. It’s doable, and it’s interesting(at least I hope so as I picked the topic), but it’s also completely and utterly immobilizing. The reason isn’t for lack of information or ideas, but this blank screen with a blinking line, waiting, mocking, judging. Okay I’m personifying the cursor now, clearly, I should switch to voice recording my ideas, but the truth is that getting started on your writing is much harder than writing. Will you have to edit? Endlessly, just put editing down on your CV as you’ll be so good at it that you’ll start editing menus on those rare dinner’s out. Writer’s block? Definitely, how do you think we’re sitting here right now? Pressure? Pushing down on me, pushing down on you, no man asked for… Sorry, distracted myself, but honestly who doesn’t need more Queen in their life? The trick is to just write, stop thinking, stop worrying if it’s perfect as you write it, or if it’ll need a thousand different things, the very act of hitting keys to produce words is liberating and will begin getting your ideas down and organized so that you can begin to see where you’re heading. So don’t stare at a blank space, fill it with anything and eventually you’ll fill it with greatness.
- The more international, the less international
What? What does that even mean? Why would I ever take the advice I said in the previous point about just writing? Actually, I’m serious, I’ve always been surrounded by international students at schools in the US, but this time I’m part of the international student base, and what I continuously find is that international barriers break down. Yes, we share in each other’s culture, and yes there are cultural differences, but at the end of the day, everything breaks down to talking about the same things that people talk about all over the world. Themselves, their friends and family, current events, unfortunately Trump, and food/drinks. This is why travel is the cure to ego-centric viewpoints. Getting out of your comfort zone and the things you’ve always known means that you finally get to notice the rest of this absolutely beautiful world, and by doing so your world can’t remain small. There are less differences than there are similarities in this world. Will some have different hardships that you can’t solve just by traveling? Absolutely, but is the awareness of this the first step towards solutions? You bet. So travel, immerse, take risks, be scared, and do it anyway.
- Lists are hard!
Seriously, year after year, I made the commitment to five, honestly, what OCD tendency said five was the needed number for this to feel complete? Okay, let’s end on a high note. Do what you love, even if that means moving away from everything you know and love. And it doesn’t have to be as literal as moving countries and PhD programs, but if you realize that you love doing something, and you’re not, find out how you can, or when you can. If you love someone and have just been making excuses as to why you’re not together, Stop. That. Shit. If you love your work, and I really urge anyone doing a thesis to love their topic, dive headfirst into it. Start with love, And in this case End in love too.
Now, just how I end all things, I’ll remind you- go out and do good.
Happy Social Work Month, Happy SJS birthday. Until next year(I’ll write before that, just not this list so be sure to check out previous!).
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