Dearest Wee Bee,
My very wise guru (aka life coach) Mara Glatzel, has repeatedly told me:
You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.
Zoe, I want you to hold both parts of this, near and dear to your heart, always. The first part reminds us that we can dream of every single thing under the rainbow, while the second part makes sure that our priorities are always there, keeping those rainbow dreams focused on what our priorities truly are.
And so, I let go.
This time, it’s something so big that I find myself grieving, even though I know that in giving this up, I am gaining so much more (a wise man-friend told me this today…which makes me realize that I’m so so lucky to be surrounded by all this infinite wisdom, especially in times like these).
This time, it’s the phd.
When I began this phd path in July 2007, my life was completely and entirely different. You were but a twinkle in my eye; I was deep in the midst of battling against ED; I was in my twenties…life was still just taking shape, finding direction, opening up, fully.
I had always wanted to do a phd. When folks asked why, I said: this degree is for me. The others had all been because I thought I ought to, or because I had to in order to get to the career I wanted (B.Ed., I’m thinking of you!). But this phd? This baby was mine! All for me.
The courses had these incredibly dynamic and exciting titles that didn’t disappoint but rather engaged me in new and wonderful ways of thinking. The libraries were these beautiful buildings to explore (albeit frustrating if the book I so desperately needed was out). Even getting my student card photo taken was such a huge deal.
Noni took my photo on the first day of my first class, in a brand new outfit, complete with a brand new book bag that A.She bought me. I looked so happy, so excited, thrilled to be on this journey.
And now, eight and a half years later, and six months into my leave of absence, and I can only say: I didn’t know then what I know now.
I didn’t know that I would learn so much.
I didn’t know that I would find an exceptionally supportive thesis supervisor, an absolutely amazing committee, and a whole gaggle of grad school friends along the way.
I didn’t know that I would choose to delve into learning about ED and the education system, intersecting my professional, personal and academic lives in such an exciting web.
I didn’t know I would find my voice, find my passion, find out that I was not, was never, alone in my battle against ED (both then in the midst of it, and now as an advocate on the other side, living a recovered life).
I also didn’t know, could not have had any idea, that you would appear only five short years after I started this thing.
Nor would I have realized that, in the middle of all of this, I would find not only you, but myself.
I used to say that I was in a relationship with my phd, because it was such a constant, such a North Star for me. Whenever I was in a bind, or at a loss for what to do, I would turn my mind towards finishing it.
I used to believe that you have to finish what you start. That success is only at the finish line, no matter how long it takes, or what the cost.
I know now that I was wrong.
Success is found in knowing and growing into who you are, little by little, each moment; in changing your path when you need to; in setting your own self as your North Star. Trust your own light, Zoe. Know that no piece of paper, no framed diploma on the wall, will ever shine as brightly as making the often difficult choices that are just right for you.
Trust that success is found in learning along the way; in honoring all that each choice gives you at the time; and in letting go if it no longer serves you and your life.
My phd gave me wisdom, knowledge, hope. Most importantly, it set me on my path to finding myself. And now that I’m here, I know that I don’t need to finish writing in order to keep all that I’ve learned, all that I’ve gained.
In life, Zoe, you will find that sometimes there will be so many, many things that you want that you just don’t have time for them all.
And so, I choose myself. I choose you. I choose taking a path towards different dreams. And with love and infinite gratitude towards my phd, I let it go.
This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.