Michigan School of Psychology logo

Reflections from President Blau: Beginning Yet Again

Our monthly blog feature from MSP President, Dr. Diane Blau, discussing what’s on her mind and in her heart regarding MSP and the field of professional psychology. 

This week begins the 2016-17 academic year. As always there are several days of orientation for new students and those returning for the doctoral program.  All are beginning a new adventure,
embarking on what seems to them an unknown journey even though they have been students for most of their lives and sufficiently accomplished to reach this distinctive level of graduate
education.President Diane Blau

Even with a history of achievement, some are anxious about their ability to succeed. The refrain of self-doubt creeps disconcertingly into their thoughts. Will I be able to do the required work, accomplish what is expected, manage the workload, sustain life balance? Am I really a fit for this program, even this profession?

Self-confidence seems to evaporate in the face of appraising the semester’s content, awakening to the vast number of pages to read and papers to write. All one notices is the top of that mountain, the far shore of that vast ocean, solely the periphery of that lush wooded forest; lost are the single starts, stops, and steps up, in and through what is necessary to make one’s unique and circuitous way.

The period at the end of a sentence, the close of a chapter, the final statement in a book-all are not as significant as the word pictures that precede them, yet often we rush through, eager to satisfy our curiosity, quell our anxiety or just be done.  Frequently we are fearful of letting ourselves stay present to the process and fully experience its forms and contours. 

The famous line, “Life is a journey not a destination” becomes invisible when considering all that it takes to arrive. Yet the reality is that when one does arrive, it is not the destination one necessarily expected and it was the journey, the adventure, the inherent mystery that was the most essential ingredient of the experience. In disbelief, we realize what we have missed, all too late.

What does this mean? Of course it is inherently human to fear the unknown and to lose confidence when confronted with tasks or criteria we have never before encountered-a dissertation, an advanced position, even a new life role.  And it is healthy to share our fears and doubts, our wonderings and deliberations.  However, it is essential to return to one’s inner self, to self-knowing, to dwell in appreciation of one’s wisdom and experience and self-valuing. We have been here before. Each of us have already climbed mountains, crossed oceans and explored forests. To possess the desire to explore, the yearning to discover and aspiration to grow are truly all we need. 

If these are what we bring as we anticipate the unknown, we are ready.