I spent a while with my former adviser/mentor yesterday, and it was weird, and it was good. In some ways, I felt a sort of closure that I didn’t in June. He was honestly surprised I’d made it through everything grad school and the universe threw at me in my first 6 months, not because he thinks little of me, but because he thought it was simply too much to ask any one person to cope with. I reminded him that he told me, several years ago, after the death of one of my closest friends, that life never got easier – you were always juggling, and what counted was how well you juggled.
“I said that?” he said, very puzzled. “Yep.” “Well, it does sound like something I’d say, I’m just surprised I would have said that then…”
But the thing that he said that actually really, really meant a lot, was when we were in the car driving over to meet some other folks. I was telling him about the opportunities I have at work, and the people I’m working with, and some of the more general stuff I’ve been doing. He paused, and said he hoped I realized that for how bad the first bit was, I actually sounded like I was integrating in faster than most graduate students do when they make the move I did, and that what’s being offered and given to me, I should take as one of the greatest validations of, well, me, that I can get.
I admit to laughing it off and telling him that no, really, it’s just that they needed a warm body with at least part of a brain, and I managed to fill both those requirements, but he didn’t let me get away with it, and forced me to acknowledge that I do realize how lucky I am. But for him, it was more than that – he really did want me to see it as validation. I guess he’s still concerned about my confidence (or general lack of it). I think he was trying to say “see, CHID isn’t the only place that thinks you’re pretty cool.”
It all kind of ended abruptly, last year, rocky and rough and not…how I would have liked. And I think I finally got what I wanted, what I needed. I’m not sure I can articulate what that was, only that it was.