The end of a semester means only one thing – exams. Sometimes I wonder if it was the smartest move to start studying again at my age. It’s almost time for my kids to go to university – not me. But now it’s too late to look back, I have made a decision and suffering the consequence!
Am I really suffering? Not at all. ‘Suffering’ seems like the politically correct word to use when you are doing something you enjoy, but no one seems to get it. Therefore, it is easier to say, yes I am suffering from it. Truth is, this is absolutely the best time of my life! I love what I am learning and the program is delivered so very professionally. This is such a new experience for me. There are students from all over the world in the Psychology program. The semester modules are Biological Psychology and Research Design. I have never formally studied either subject before, but it’s progressing better than I had ever imagined. I see many new faces during the webinars that are held regularly and it’s very exciting to be part of this program learning some incredibly rich content. The best part is that the online library is open to all students! So these days you can find me smiling like an idiot floating in my library-induced nirvana.
My workday is peppered with counseling sessions throughout the week. Private practice means I get to choose when I work. I find myself choosing to have more time to surf the library. This is such a contradiction with my younger self. The time I was supposed to study (30 years ago), I did not. It was not important to go to university and I remember thinking I am not good enough to go anyways. It was better to find a job. So I did, and have been working ever since until I closed down my business three years ago. It was exhausting but I never felt it was my life. Or my purpose. I wasn’t really looking for a purpose – I didn’t even know I had to have one!
At the time, counseling was a part-time voluntary effort and I had been learning psychotherapy on my own. So when I say that I didn’t know I had to have a purpose – it’s not really true. I knew all the theory – I just thought it was not meant for me. I was cruising through life without any major hiccups and now I know this is one of the dark tunnels of the walking dead. Alive, yet dead. Restlessness drove me to study something that always held my interest – psychology. Although I had in excess of 150 books in my Kindle for counseling, motivation, and psychotherapy along with other related subjects, I had not done any structured study of psychology. I found psychologists like Jonathan Haidt, Jordan Peterson, Steven Pinker, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Daniel Kahneman on Youtube and by listening to their talks, started studying the greats – Freud, Jung, Nietzche, and many others.
It didn’t take me long to get engrossed in this new adventure. I found it engaging, thought-provoking, and tremendously insightful. I didn’t have any pressure to find a job, thanks to my wonderful husband who assured me I can take time off if I wanted to. So I took the time off determined to learn as much as I possibly could with this great blessing of time and the means, hence, university.
I have young clients who come for counseling who have lost their grip on their studies. During this pandemic, more than 90% of my clients are young undergraduates. They haven’t been to lectures in a long time and in Sri Lanka, we are finding out that the teaching staff may not be well equipped to conduct lectures online. My young clients are frustrated at the lack of empathy and are struggling hard to keep positive in the face of this relentless pandemic. Many have lost their drive and motivation to complete their studies.
I connect with most of them easily because of my own studies. They are surprised to learn that I am also an undergraduate and have exams to face. So we discuss study timetables and set schedules for the day. I follow along with them and one young client is now checking with me to see if I have done my readings for the day! Two of my clients are psychology students and we have very good therapy sessions which include discussing the various module content between their university and mine. These discussions have managed to pluck them out of a dark place and instill a newfound interest in their field of study. Soon I will let them go because it looks like both have successfully overcome their issues. These are the moments it feels so rewarding to be a counselor. To be able to empower your clients with a new life, a new personality, new outlook.
My exams are coming up next week, and I guess I should be properly stressed. But strangely, no. How is that possible? I have no idea, whatsoever. I suspect it could be my age – these days, I assign all unnatural phenomena to ‘age’, or it could be because I am absolutely loving every moment!
Looking forward to a new semester, new projects, and a cure for aging. So very much to do…