new skin new life

Right now I am procrastinating on finishing a paper for my Human Development class. (It’s a strange class for me because I am so interested in most of (…much of) what we learn about and yet I just can’t stand the class itself — probably because of its hybrid “take a four-hour class session once every two weeks and complete activities online in between” format, ugh.)

Anyway, what’s on my mind right now is the following short observation: I feel really good about my program right now. I’m writing a few large papers right now (or at least, large by my undergrad standards) and they’re really serving as a reminder that I love what I’m studying. They’re taxing in a way that papers never have been for me: writing these papers is very difficult because I care so deeply about getting it right.

One of the papers is for my research class. I’m writing a review on commonalities between students with disabilities who graduate from four-year institutions: things like whether their universities have an office for students with disabilities, etc. My other paper is on transgender students on college campuses, and what we as student affairs professionals do well in terms of supporting them, and what are still represented as huge gaps. (Both of these papers, and the latter paper especially, are really making me work hard to zero in on precise language and clarity of ideas. I can honestly say that I’ve never had to work on that before. For me, writing a paper has been, until now, like unravelling thread: once I figure out where to start it’s rarely difficult to finish it off. But writing in these domains — again, writing about something I care about, to be read by someone whose opinion I deeply respect and value — is a whole other ball of wax. So really, even in addition to building the content, even figuring out how to physically write it is teaching me a lot.)

Writing both of these feels like I’d always hoped writing papers would feel during my undergrad. It is not about HOMG I HOPE I FIND TEN SOURCES FOR THIS AND THEN PEACE OUT BRAH. I find myself actively seeking out reference pages for the primary sources I really enjoyed. I’m reading dissertations that I can’t technically cite solely because they make me a better professional. What is going on here?? Is this what it’s like to study something you genuinely care about?? And honestly, this feeling, probably above all other positive reinforcement I’ve gotten over the last six months or so, is just the most reassuring thing. It’s okay that I’m here. This is where I’m meant to be. This is digging in my heels and wanting to learn and do a good job. I keep getting lost in the garden paths of “Oh what an interesting reference page this source has, I’ll check that out!” and just… endlessly wanting to learn more. Also, I have to say that one of the huge differences between my undergraduate degree and this degree is that now, whenever I learn something, the ways that it will make me better are tangible and obvious. I learn things and immediately think, this is how I can apply this to my practice, which is awesome. I’m almost glad I never felt this during my undergrad, because now that I know that school can be like this, I honestly don’t know how I could have finished anything that felt like less.

© 2019 Caroline Horste

I am neither a professional nor an expert, and nothing here should be taken as counsel or legal advice. Along the same vein, nothing here should be taken as representing the views of anybody but myself, including my employers or the organizations I volunteer for. -CH