On the eve of my fourth residency at Goddard College as a IMA-TLA student (Individualized Masters in Transformative Language Arts), I am sitting on the upper level of a gym as my son and two dozen other miniature humans are noisily jumping, swinging, rolling, and springing below me. Might as well be another planet from where I will be in 24 hours time. To pass the time, I was checking my blog stats and there I found an incoming link to my blog from worldsofchange.com where my very first “Trust the Process” post from August 2010 is published. Strange – that seems so long ago now. And me, so different. I can even read a subtle change in my writing.
I am particularly nervous to go back this time (or am I like this every time and I’ve just forgotten?) because I am returning after a semester off. It is time to commit again, get back to the discipline of 20-ish hours per week researching or writing (when I’d rather be doing anything but) and to face the reality that this degree is going to happen – and going to be a lot of work. But I am excited! I waited a long time for my life’s work to make itself known to me and it was worth every panicked journal entry, every incorrectly colored parachute, and every “wrong” turn. I now know I am doing exactly what I was called to do, what I was born to do and – no matter how much work and discipline it will take – I will have a grand time doing it!
People always say you shouldn’t take a break from school because you’ll never go back, ya know. Well, I have done this twice now. When I left school after a disappointing freshman year, I did so because I knew I wasn’t doing the authentic thing. During high school I went through the motions of applying to college because that’s just what you did. When I suddenly found myself on campus the fall I turned 18, I thought, what just happened?! I struggled through that first year studying for a major I wasn’t suited for because I hadn’t known what else to do. When my grades reflected my confusion and discomfort, I took a break. And everyone said, you won’t go back, ya know. But six months later, I was back and raring to go. I now knew what I wanted and I flung myself at it and graduated with honors. I just needed that break to check in with myself.
And now, 22 years later, I have done it again. I had gotten off track with my grad work, lost in what I thought others thought I should be doing. My own authority, my authentic voice, had momentarily been drowned out. But not completely. It was there tugging at my hem: Mama, are you listening? That’s not what I wanted! So I took a break to give my voice a chance to grow and tell me what she did want. I had turned away from myself, but now I have re-turned, back in the direction of my potential and purpose.
It’s OK to take a break to make sure you are doing the right thing, the authentic thing that will make YOU happy, not what others think will make you happy – or worse, what will make THEM happy. It’s OK to admit you might have made a mistake or gone off track. Listen. Listen hard. Take a break so you can really hear. And then re-turn back to your dreams and make them happen.
Prompt: If I listen to my own voice, it tells me…
2 thoughts on “Trust the Process (part 11): Re-turning”
Joanna, congratulations on your courage and giving yourself the time to discover your authentic desires. I was out of school even longer than you–35 years?–when I started the process of becoming a certified journal facilitator. Not an MFA, but important to me nonetheless. After all these years, I finally found my niche and am loving it. Good luck with school this semester. I’m sure you’ll inspire everyone.
I realized the date and popped in to see how you are…and you are in great shape! So glad you’re still following the process of that very creative room. I am so grateful for Caryn now that I’m in a PhD program. She really knows how to teach. Be well, dear Joanna BTW…how are the other “Caryn’s Astonishings?”