Monday, May 10, 2010
You can call me Master Shannon...
On Saturday I graduated. It was wonderful. My lovely parents came into town for the event, and to help me move all of my stuff back to Louisiana. My parents had a great time, mostly because they just love ACU. They never went to school here, but I guess they're pretty pleased with my college and graduate school experience.
On Sunday, several of my friends came over to help me and my dad load the truck. My friend Brent, who is apparently very, very strong and can carry not one but 2 boxes of textbooks at a time (but would NEVER brag about it... haha), asked me if I knew everything in all of my books. As it turns out, the answer is an astounding NO. Which is why I have to lug all those books around with me back to Louisiana.
But his question got me thinking about what I really learned in the past 2 years of graduate school. So here it is, what I learned in graduate school:
1. I know a lot, but I have to be confident in that fact to make any difference to anyone. No one wants to see a therapist who second guesses themselves all the time. So when I feel myself starting to question my abilities, I have to remind myself of all that I've accomplished in the past two years. Whenever you learn something, learn it well enough to know that you know it for sure, without question.
2. I don't and can't know everything, but I have to be non-defensive enough to admit it and ask for help or refer the client out. When there's something you don't know, you can go find out, ask for help, or lie about it. The first two require more work and less pride, but in the end you'll have done the right thing.
3. Everyone has a story worth hearing. We don't often take the time to listen, but when you do you'll learn what compassion is. Pain makes people do all kinds of weird things. I had one client who told me about cheating on his wife then using their whole savings buying drugs. He said that he could tell that I would never do anything like that. I told him "That's what you did with your pain, I do something different with mine." And that's the truth.
4. 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if serving the Lord, not men.' Col 3:17 I have admitted many times on this blog my struggle comparing myself to others. So initially, in graduate school I was constantly trying to distinguish myself as "smarter" than everyone else. However, as learned lesson number 2 on this list, I learned that if I was going to accomplish anything in life I needed more motivation than that. There will always be someone prettier, better, smarter and faster than I. But when I started focusing on working harder instead of being smarter, my life improved greatly.
5. Graduate school is an excellent time to learn and embrace your own neuroses. For example, I make lists like you wouldn't believe, because there is something oddly satisfying about crossing things off a list. Also, I am introverted. After a long day at school with lots of complainer students and crying clients I have to have 15 minutes alone, which I usually spend washing dishes.
6. Learn people's names. Everyone is impressed when you remember their name. Everyone is put off when you don't remember it. Find some way to learn people's names, and then call them by their name.
7. I need the church. During graduate school it would have been so easy to be so focused on myself and my work and forget about the rest of the universe. But the church keeps me grounded. Being involved in ministry helps me remember what God has done for me and what my place in the kingdom is and I like that. I think that's why God gave us the church in the first place.
8. I choose my attitude. So when I have a bad one, there's no one to blame but myself.
9. Life goes on. Sometimes things will happen and it seems so horrible, like the world will stop turning or something. But it never does, even when it feels like it should. Sometimes, I have to remind my clients of that. Sometimes, I have to remind myself off that.
10. At the end of the day, all I really want to do is help people. I know that sounds cheesy, but truly, that's all I want. Earlier this semester I had an amazing moment where God totally revealed this desire of my heart to me in a crazy tearfully convicted way. When I find myself stressed about how much work I have to do or the uncertainty of my future, I cling to this reality. I imagine I will all of my days. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the things that seem so obvious.