Friday, September 16, 2011

Grad School as Therapy

As a teenager I saw a therapist. I'm pretty sure it was a waste of time and money. It wasn't that I was an amazingly healthy, self-aware human that didn't need such deep conversations. Sadly, my poor therapist just had issues determining how screwed up I was (not as much as some people) and what I needed (an intellectual challenge). I was broken, but in all the wrong ways. Eventually I put myself back together and moved on.

This story has a point. College broke me again, in different ways. I lacked self-confidence. Not only was I constantly afraid of screwing up my job, my life, and pretty much anything of value to me, but I also had a poor view of the future. I felt trapped in a life that I could not live up to. So, I made a decision. I quit my job, took some time off, and enrolled in graduate business school.

I could go see a therapist, but I don't want to. I want to go to grad school. I want my masters degree. A completely unexpected side effect is that I feel my broken self getting pieced back together. Everything about grad school is emotionally rewarding. I'm surrounded by other successful, ambitious people who have made similar choices to myself and I am not a weak contributor. It feels right.

I have been assigned a number of readings on the topic of leadership, and these bear a surprising resemblance to various self-help strategies. We are encouraged to talk about these and discuss how we can become better leaders, which is remarkably similar to becoming to becoming better people.

In other words, as a graduate student, I have access to numerous resources on how I can feel less broken. I have a support network starting where I can talk about how my past choices led me to this point. Therapy probably would've been cheaper, but grad school will most likely pay for itself eventually.

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