The semester is winding down, after all. I'm halfway through my last week of classes and my final week at my internship, and I am so relieved that my first year is almost complete. There was never any doubt in my mind that I'd make it through successfully, but this school year brought many more challenges, personal and interpersonal, than I expected and I got way more self-awareness (and related emotional discomfort) than I feel like I'd bargained for. It's given me a lot to think about, in both the best and the worst ways. I'd like to think that it's made me a better person, but it's really too soon to tell.
On the one hand, I'm incredibly glad that I made the choice to go for my MSW because I finally feel like I'm not only doing something productive with my life and education, but that I'm also really making a difference in the world and doing what I need to do in order to be fulfilled in some nebulous, philosophical, career-related sense. On the other, it's been very draining, emotionally speaking, for a variety of reasons. I didn't start school in the best of headspaces, a lot of my coursework has dredged up feelings and experiences I'd rather remain buried in the bottom of my subconscious's closet, and my internship, much as I've loved it, was a major downer (dealing with mental health and substance abuse in incarcerated populations is not what dreams are made of). Throw in the stress of continuing to work in the service industry in an effort to stay above water financially, and you have a very anxious, exhausted, stressed-out me who desperately needs a break.
Fortunately, it's coming. My last day of class is Friday. In between now and then, I need to write two medium-length papers, complete a take-home final, and take an exit exam with the rest of my cohort (that I am mercifully not expected to study for). I'm working this weekend, then I have all of next week off. On May 3rd, I am heading to Nashville to visit a few very good friends from when I lived there. On the 5th, I will drive north to Indiana to see my best friend from elementary school marry her college sweetheart. On the 6th, I will drive to Knoxville to visit my family. On the 7th, I will drive from Knoxville to Cullowhee to start the first class of my mini-mester.
The course topic of the mini-mester in question? Child Trauma.
The reading list for said elective in child trauma? Working with Traumatized Youth in Child Welfare, Collaborative Treatment of Traumatized Children and Teens: The Trauma Systems Therapy Approach, and Secondary Traumatic Stress and the Child Welfare Professional.
Yeah, I know. Four and a half hours a day of that for two and a half weeks. I'm going to be such a joy to be around.
Once that's over, though, I will have all of June and July off, and my classes (and shiny new internship!) don't start up until the last week of August. I don't have many big plans for the summer. Most of them involve doing a few out-of-town things (I have two other weddings to attend in May and an engagement party to go to in June) and working five days a week at my job that pays me. The fact that I'm excited about only working full-time and dealing with my volunteering gig is, in my opinion, a pretty sad commentary on how nuts this past semester has been. I'm also looking forward to getting some reading done (and book reviews written for next semester!), knitting a bunch of things, and firing up my sewing machine.
Until then, though, I have papers to write.