As GA training comes to a close and I officially begin work tomorrow and classes on Monday, I’m trying to tap into all the emotions that I’m feeling.
Yesterday was a hard day.
I’ve been in Columbia for about two weeks, learning the library inside and out for my assistantship as a reference librarian at Ellis Library. Training has been a mixture of things. There’s been a lot excitement, as I realize that this might be a job that I’m actually really good at, that I’m going to enjoy, and that I’m jumpstarting my career in a way that’s almost too good to imagine. There’s a little bit of longing and loneliness, because sometimes it hits me that I’d rather be in Bracken Library at Ball State, surrounded by people that love me, and in a library that I’m familiar with. I find myself going to places in the afternoon where I feel like I can meet people. I got a public library card, tried to poke around a few coffee shops, took a walk around my apartment building.
Yesterday at orientation, I realized that I kind of forgot about the whole “taking classes” part of grad school. The semblance of flow that I had going on for about two weeks came crashing down, as I realized just how much I was going to have to study, learn an unfamiliar academic discipline, navigate online classes, and I’m pretty sure that I ordered the wrong book for one of my courses. I got that awful sense of drowning as I realized there were so many mentors to choose from, so many events to go to, and networking organizations to join. There just seemed to be so much, that even the fear of “not knowing what I don’t know” and making huge unforgivable mistakes in my work and classes started to creep in. I looked at my schedule, counting my work hours and my class hours, and I felt myself start to sink when I thought to myself, “when I’m going to build my community?”
The rest of the night didn’t get much better, and I stumbled into the Starbucks near my apartment at 10 pm in order to get some WiFi to gain some control over my life and gather my thoughts. I tried to remind myself that grad school was supposed to be a little harder, that transitions are always difficult, and that I’m trying to let the flow of my schedule happen naturally.
I’m driving back to my new place and plug in my Spotify shuffle, shooting up a quick prayer that the Lord would put a dance song that would put me in a better mood or something that I could just sing really loud to. The second I’m thinking this, Chance the Rapper’s How Great comes on my Spotify, the song that gave me a lot of courage during my journey to pick a grad school. I felt the Lord telling me to trust Him with my time and schedule, and that He won’t let me fail if I just keep my eyes on Him, and reminding me that He’s got me this far.
As I went through the last few weeks of training, I have also been reflecting on the choices I made that got me to Mizzou. When I visited the University of Washington in January, it felt like this unattainable Disneyland lottery town. I felt like since I had got in to the best program in the country, this was obviously the best opportunity. I remember my prayers while I was in Seattle, (which was also the week that my dad had his huge surgery to extract his cancer) and the Lord repeatedly told me that I could move to Seattle. That if it’s what I really, really wanted, that He would do this with me, I just had to know that it was going to feel impossibly hard. He also let me know that there’s no shame in something choosing something that felt easier. He reminded me that the Kingdom of God is just as much in Columbia, Missouri as it is in Seattle. I’ve been keeping all these things in mind while I prepare myself for this assistantship. Through training, I’m beginning to see clearly what an incredible opportunity this assistantship is. It’s giving me everything from financial freedom, to an open-minded training ground where I get to learn everything about my field, to professional experience. When the Lord told me I could pick Seattle, and I ended up choosing Columbia, that felt thorny and complicated. But now I’m realizing it wasn’t about what was better or worse, what was easier or harder, what really mattered was I feel like the Lord and I have made a decision together, and through that decision I’ve been able to see Him more clearly.
So while I’m anxious and overwhelmed and scared, I also feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Hopefully I can look back on this, two years from now, on the other side of grad school, and say that I trusted the Lord with all the different parts of this chapter in my life, and then I’ll be on to the next.