“I’m really doing this.”
I gave quick side glances to either side, half expecting my cohort mates to hear my thoughts. I thought it again.
“I’m really doing this.”
I was sitting in the malformed semi-circle of desks in my ECPY 767 class, the research methods course. That’s the research methods course.
About 6 months earlier I was in Albany, New York for a Counseling Psychology PhD program interview. I was slowly (and I mean slooooowwly) sipping a glass of wine during a pre-interview get together hosted by the current students. I was doing my best to just be myself while gleaning as much information on the program as I could. And it was all good as far as I could tell. However, there was one curious detail. The 767 class.
“I was traumatized by it.”
“I think I still have PTSD from that class.”
“The 767 class? Yeeeah, about that . . .”
Apparently it was a doozie of a course( yes, I said doozie). And my take on their reactions? Bring it on. Of course I didn’t actually say that. I mostly just made the half-frown-with-wide-eyes-wow-that-sounds-serious face. In way, I was jealous, wishing I could have a doctoral level course to complain about. But I was also hopeful. I wanted to pass through that difficult threshold. I wanted to put myself through the wringer. I wanted to be the best I could be.
Later on, after I was accepted into the program, I didn’t quite trust it. I wondered if I was really supposed to be here. Do I have what it takes? Maybe I just tricked everyone. Maybe it was the greatest con of all time. Maybe even the longest con of all time, traceable to my second semester as an undergrad, listening to an adjunct professor explain that if I ever wanted to do anything with psychology I needed to have a PhD. Period. I remember taking a deep breath and thinking to myself, “PhD . . . I think I can do that.”
And here I am, doing it. I’m a doctoral student. Sitting in a doctoral classroom. Holding my doctoral pencil. Taking my doctoral notes. Watching our doctoral faculty give a head-exploding lecture on the philosophy of science and statistics. Having a meta-moment, suddenly feeling the vibrations of a connecting thread that weaves together so many of my past experiences.
The other day this nice guy stepped into our office. Another student introduced him, explaining that this nice guy was visiting as a prospective applicant. He asked me what I thought about the faculty, the other students, and the program in general. Then he asked about the classes. I got this kind of wry smile on my face.
“Well, there’s your classes. Then there’s 767 . . .”