Without relying on the heat as a guide, summer season in Texas is now closing. Today was the first day of school for many tots, new college students and graduates of all types. They had to say goodbye to the swimming all day, picnics in the park and sleepovers on Wednesdays.
Now it is time to greet hard-back lunch boxes, fieldtrips, late night study sessions, semester long assignments and most importantly, inspirations and directions for the future.
Going back to school brings a flurry of emotions, both concrete and abstract. Anxious if you’re going to fit in with the other kids, determined to find the answer to life’s purpose and ready to embark on your clear path.
All this hustle and bad morning traffic makes me reminisce on my days as a student, particularly as an undergrad studying psychology and art.
I have very fond memories of my days at St. Edward’s University as a small but steadfast undergraduate. I stayed up late studying, perfected each sentence of each paper, worked tirelessly trying to understand the symbolism of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, struggled through statistics so much that I became a tutor, and naively but confidently initiated programs to bridge inner city and private school university literacy.
Near the end of my 4 years, I was sure of one thing: I wanted to work with people, to counsel, to console, to help. I simultaneously studied art and decided I wanted to be an art therapist. In my pursuit of this goal I traveled around with my mom (shout out to Mom!) to all of the various schools that offered graduate degrees in art therapy and none of them took.
I’ll always remember one school wanted me to go out into the wilderness with just myself; no book, no journal, no music, no phone, no nothing. I was supposed to look for my spiritual self, but at that time I was far from connected to anything that was a higher power and this turned me off. After a series of disappointing graduate school tours I remember being pretty down and out until Mom said to me, “Why don’t you look into social work?” I remember looking at her with a cocked head saying something eloquent, like “huh?”
I’ll admit, for humility sake, that I didn’t know what social work was, but I got on the Internet and started to google it. The words beamed out of the screen like answers to my future…social and economic justice, make a difference, help people be the best they can, counselor, advocate. I was fairly lucky actually and was able to make the less than 2 week application deadline to both the University of Texas and Texas State.
When I received my acceptance letter to UT I knew the rest of my life had just arrived in a sealed envelope with an orange stamped longhorn on it. (I still don’t hold down my middle finger and ring finger with my thumb…don’t hold it against me, I don’t hold it against you).
Sure I have looked back and thought “what if I did this or what if I did that instead.” But truth be told, I love this profession and its endless opportunities. I am actually having a fun time over here considering going back to school again. For what you ask, well, I’ll keep that as my gem for now and share with you if (or when) it comes to fruition.
I love the art of learning for the simple sake of understanding. Basking in lectures and philosophical debates about the end of the world or the existence of God. Finding endless satisfaction discussing human behavior. Drooling over new information about health and wellness. Becoming fixated on studies of the brain.
I like to think of the world as a constant teacher. Every person you interact with, every conversation you have, every introspective moment, each NPR news break or Radio Lab Podcast you listen to, all there to give you perspective, to teach you about the world you live in. To help you understand.
We are all forever students.