I am a total commitment-phobe. I am likely to say no or, more often, maybe (which honestly means no, but I’m too scared to say it) to anything I am asked to do simply because I don’t want to be tied down to anything. What if I say yes and when the day comes, I don’t feel like taking off my pajamas? Or even worse, what if I say yes, find out I am inadequate and fail miserably. I started grad school, I was content to go to class, do my homework, and keep to myself. I said no to anything outside of that. It allowed me to be in control but it was stifling.
Last year, I decided I would start saying yes, especially when it came to school and developing as a professional. I started applying for things. I took a class outside of the social work program. I started pursuing a new hobby that would also help me be better at the work I want to do. I started intentionally building relationships with my classmates.
Saying yes isn’t easy. It has been vulnerable and scary. I was rejected by things I applied for. I had to discuss my ideas in front of new people and learn about issues from new perspectives, and admit that I knew way less than I thought I did. In pursuing new friendships, I also opened myself up to the possibility of rejection.
While it wasn’t easy, it was good. I didn’t get everything I tried for, but I did get a lot more than I would have gotten if I had continued to say no. I left my job to be a GRA, which has allowed me to devote time and develop expertise in a subject I am passionate about and to be mentored by someone who knows way more than I do. This opened the door for me to have a practicum placement that aligns perfectly with the research I am doing and, more importantly, with where I want to be in the future. I got over my fear of speaking in front of people and began to see the value of my voice. I have friendships with other social workers that are invaluable. The work we do is hard and it is necessary to have people in our lives who get it.
It would have been more comfortable for me to keep grad school in a box. I could have continued to go to class, do my homework, and keep to myself and I probably would have been just fine. But I would have missed out on rich experiences that have changed the way I see myself, the work we do, and other people.
I’m not telling you these things to praise myself. I really didn’t do anything special--all I did was show up and say yes. Grad school changed my life because I let it.
Posted on Mon, December 7, 2015
by Amy Arnold filed under