The mantra at Goddard College is “Trust the process.” Every day one or more faculty advisors included in their discussion, “… and, well, trust the process. It works.” With no syllabus or course curriculum most of us newbies, those who had been educated in a strictly outlined, non-critically-thinking fashion (oh, that would be all of us who went through the American education system), were beginning to feel like we’d been thrown in a whirlpool. Nothing to grab onto, just whirling round and round, trying not to drown in our own possibilities. We were overwhelmed by the very freedom of intellect for which we had come to Goddard in the first place.
Over and over again I heard my fellow students express the fear or concern that they were doing “it” wrong. What is the right way to do…? How are we supposed to be do…? How do they want us to do…? But there was no right way. Our way was the the right way and we would find it if we just let go of all the perfectionism and societal expectations, and to tell those critics in our head telling us we were obviously doing something wrong to shut the hell up! And the faculty kept telling us, Trust the process! But what did that mean?
Some of my cohorts became obsessed very concerned with their study plan. They stayed up until all hours of the morning early in the week just to get it “right.” I was so caught up in the fact that I didn’t yet have My Question (a point on the map towards which I could point my nose and begin my journey, but would not necessarily be the final destination) that constructing a plan seemed as impossible as plotting a travel itinerary before knowing to which continent I was headed. The pages of my journal began to look like the brain-storming session of a mission-less board of directors: mind-maps here, lists there, circles, arrows, question marks – lots of question marks… and plenty of self-doubt.
Monday, the fourth day, marked the height of my anxiety. All around me I heard fellow students ask, Have you found your Question yet? The reality that I did in fact need to have a succinct question in mind and a study plan submitted in less than three days, one with a full bibliography and a schedule of what I would read and critique over the course of the next six months when I could no longer even tell you what I initially planned to study, had me seeing stars.
But at the same time I was in heaven. Surrounded by intellectual, insightful, free-thinking, accepting, gentle, fun and talented writers, musicians and artists I felt at home. Completely and utterly HOME. And, inspired by them, I wrote:
I’m so anxious to begin. But terrified to begin at the same time. This little bubble of intellectual energy, it’s enticing, bewildering, intoxicating.
I did finally find My Question and I was able to put my plan together – what a relief! I got out of my own way and just let the thoughts and ideas come. My journal let me thrash around, never judging what I came up with, never laughing or doubting my ideas. The one thing I wanted to know came to me because I let it come. I trusted myself.
And that’s what trusting the process meant: trusting yourself to find the answers. To find your own way.
Although the water was still deep and the whirlpool circling faster with all the new questions that sprang from The Question, I felt like I had found a foot-hold. Something to hang onto as I made my way through to An Answer. It had happened. I had trusted myself and the process, I had found my question and I was on my way.
Prompt: Worry can be debilitating. What do I need to let go of – to trust the process – so I can move forward to something positive and exciting?
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