To Boldly Go

OK, well, maybe not boldly. I mean, with what I’m about to start, it’s really hard to do boldly.

Tomorrow, I start the USC online MSW program. I was accepted last month, and had to get up to speed pretty fast, with some speed bumps along the way. And it’s definitely been a time filled with anxiety and excitement; trying to make sure my computer was ready for online classes (which are all done live, through an integrated webcam/phone setup, so you can see and hear both the instructor and other students in real time), trying to make sure my work schedule was altered in order to be able to take my classes, and trying to arrange payment. Attending school online is a lot different than doing so in person, and so far the orientation process has given me a taste of what it will be like, but tomorrow will be the first test of how things really go.

It’s a big step for me, going from almost completing a PhD in English to joining a Masters program in an entirely different line of work. But somehow, I think it is a more fitting one for me. When I was starting out as a PhD candidate in English, my ultimate goal was to teach. I didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about publishing papers or trying to add to the body of knowledge that already existed, and as I went through the program, I realized exactly how important to the PhD process publishing new work really is. And I found I just didn’t have anything new or revolutionary to add. I wanted to help new students learn and possibly find their own love of literature, and so I felt more and more incompatible with the program – especially when I ran into the dissertation process, and found myself coming up totally blank on topics.

With social work, I know that my goal is to become a therapist. I want to work with patients or clients one-on-one, and while I’m more than happy to keep up with advances in the field, I don’t know that I want to be the one making them – I just want to help people who come to me for help, and hopefully make them feel like they aren’t alone. I know that a crucial part of my own recovery was realizing that there were people in very similar situations, and that not only was I not alone in dealing with my mental health issues, but that I had a wealth of people who were going, or had gone, through similar problems and could, or did, come out the other side. And so I am working on this degree to help provide to others the same kind of help that I was given. And that starts, for me, tomorrow, August 3rd.

If anyone reading this has experience with social work – either in a practical or clinical manner, or just having made use of social work services, for good or ill, I’d love to hear about it.


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