This week was hard. I was discouraged. Tears were shed. I felt like a failure and even worse I felt like quitting. Welcome to graduate school. This won't be the last time I am overwhelmed. Not only have I embarked on the crazy scary journey of becoming a clinician, but I also chose to do it as far from home as I could get. In the last few days I have tried to stay focused on the positive.
And some big positives came my way.
Friday was my first diagnostic evaluation. Talk about intimidating. Making a diagnosis is probably the hardest aspect of a clinician's job. Doing it with only seven weeks of graduate school under your belt seems insane. Mainly because it is. That being said we all start knowing nothing and have to jump in somewhere, right? Normally on Friday afternoons after clinic I get to go open water swimming with my triathlon friends. Unfortunately (for me) they were all out of town getting ready to compete in Tallahassee. I couldn't leave clinic in time to join, so I was ridin' solo.
Obviously my first adventure post-clinic was a trip to Crossfit 813 where overhead squats, push jerks and pull-ups greeted me.
If this programming keeps up all winter, my shoulders are going to look sick on the bike during the spring tri season. Yes these are things I think about at crossfit.
After a quick shower, I decided I wanted to treat myself to dinner and a drink. I chose a nearby mexican restaurant. Finishing my first evaluation of my life seemed significant. Sometimes a lady needs to take herself out, there isn't always someone there to do it for you!
I sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me. Early in the conversation he told me he had a hearing loss and his only aided hear was the one on the far side from me. Immediately I wanted to ask about his hearing loss, but that would be pragmatically inappropriate. As he inquired about what brought me to Florida we got to speaking about Speech Language Pathology and my interest in aural rehab/hearing aids. Luckily he spoke to me about the various hearing aids he has had, the source of his hearing loss (explosive during Vietnam) and his experiences with audiologists, fittings and so on. I learned a lot and had fun talking about a part of our field that always gets me animated. We talked about a lot of different things and I really enjoyed our conversation. He told me he was impressed with my excitement, commitment and passion for the field. It was at this point I had to confide in him how graduate school has made me feel like such a failure. That's when he said
"Whenever you feel like school or anyone is bringing you down, you just remember this conversation and the time someone who barely knew you could see the excitement and motivation you possess, because if I can see it then it is there."
It was precisely what I needed to hear. I'm not very religious or superstitious, but sometimes fate prevails. This was a conversation that was meant to be. We talked for nearly two hours and every minute felt important. He told me so many stories and had so much life perspective to offer. Sometimes I feel so old, especially around the girls in my program who went straight from undergrad to graduate school. Every once in awhile I let myself get caught up in that female hysteria and worry that I'm going to get married too late (or not at all) and miss out on making a family. Then I have conversations with people who have lived so much more life than I have and I realize I'm still at the beginning. I'm figuring things out at the pace that works for me.
Moving here was scary. Graduate school is scary. Plunges are scary - the unknown is scary. But I would never have forgiven myself if I had let fear keep me from seizing this opportunity.
I would have regretted it forever.
I'm proud of myself for coming to Florida and accepting the hardest challenge I've ever faced to date. And every time I get discouraged I will think back to Friday's conversation. Because I am not a failure. I am at the beginning. Plenty of mistakes are going to be made in the next few years, but that is no reason to get discouraged.
I have the passion, motivation, dedication, excitement and commitment to become a competent and compassionate clinician. And I can't wait until that clinician looks back at the girl typing now and chuckles to herself. I'm sure my present worries will look insignificant in hindsight. Until then, I'm just going to keep looking for the excitement and seizing opportunities for adventure.
PS Some love from my friends came in the mail this week. A little late birthday love and a post-card from Italy. Another pleasant reminder that it's the little things in life.
"Well behaved women rarely make history."
Yikes, I think Ash might have written a novel on the back of that post-card!!
I love that my friends know me so well. These nuggets of love came at just the right time. I am so lucky and grateful to have such amazing girlfriends!