Some of you may remember that a while back, when I was first interviewing for (and soon after landed) my first “real” job, I had a stage system in which denial was the first stage of attempting to find employment after graduation. I don’t have a theory for how it works once you land that job (once the stages have all been successfully resolved, I’ll keep you informed), but what I do know is that there’s a serious case of denial going on, and it might be with every new person who has entered a demanding, somewhat thankless field that thinks they can handle the pressure.
Some self-disclosure: I’ve never been on the other side of the couch.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I went to a child psychologist when I was three or four – my parents regale me with tales of my “weirdness” as a child (apparently speaking entirely in quotes from Winnie the Pooh is “abnormal”…but really, what do they know?), but I only have a few vivid memories from my childhood (someone can analyze me on that one). There was the time in 10th grade, when I got sent to the guidance counselor after my grandfather died. And there was my one-therapy-stand in college to deal with re-adjusting after studying abroad, where my therapist’s coldness and judgmental attitude only strengthened my desire to enter this field.
But since then, I’ve only been the therapist, rather than the client. And as I begin to establish a career in the mental health world, I’m realizing how problematic that is.
Walking out of my Human Development class tonight, I came to that daunting realization that I will be graduating with a master’s degree in two weeks. This particular class ended a week earlier than my other classes, and experiencing my first last class of graduate school is a strange feeling. Denial is my favorite defense mechanism, and it’s difficult coming to terms with the fact that for the first time since I was two years old, I will no longer be a student. So instead of being productive and doing things like job searching, tailoring my cover letters, or working on the three papers I have left, I’ve chosen to do some self-reflection and impart my words of wisdom regarding the journey that is a graduate school counseling program.