The one where I cried in class

Last night was the first meeting of the infamous Adult Development class with Dr. Green.  I could literally feel the anxiety in the room as my classmates and I sat there expecting the worst. We had our notes in front of us, and flipped through them desperately as we waited for our Socratic beat down to begin.  At least that was my interpretation of the situation.

Of course, like most things, it was not nearly as bad as I (we) imagined it would be.  During the course of all the excitement I forgot how excited I was for this class because I actually am very interested in human development.  Ever since Dr. Keim’s class during my masters which was “Lifespan and human development” but really focused more on the theories of child development I have wanted to know more about the adult.  Dr. Green’s class is poised to cover all of it.  On an academic level *pushes glasses up the bridge of my nose*, I am thrilled that a few of the people we are covering in class will be used to inform my dissertation research.  On a more human level, I find it interesting learning about how we grow and change throughout our lives.

It was made supremely clear to me my strengths last night.  As he began to ask us about Kegan, Piaget, Erikson, etc. I felt most comfortable discussing those who were rooted in Psychology.  This came as no surprise as that is my academic background and training up to this point.  Dr. Estrada asked me a few days ago why I chose a Doctorate in Leadership rather than in Counseling Psychology, and gave her an answer that I don’t remember…but right now what is coming to mind is that Leadership is something new and its making me WORK.  Not to say that I wouldn’t have had to work with another Psychology based degree, but this is all together a new foundation.  Its refreshing on any normal day to learn something new.  However, last night I was happy to have my crutch of explaining Piaget’s stages with relative ease.

Kegan…that twisty bastard.  Honestly, could this man have explained development in a more loopy way?  I know that people love this guy, and it seemed that my classmates had a handle on what he was trying to say. I, however, sat eager to hear a human explain to me what his text could not.  I mean, okay…yes I can read and comprehend text  of course, but it isn’t a living breathing thing for me yet.  I can’t see Kegan’s work in life quite yet, so for me (the stubborn practitioner) its just words on a page.  I want to like Kegan and am hoping that by the end of today’s lecture we can get to know one another, but our first date sucked.

Naturally the things I am most excited about are coming at the end…I love me some Theory U, and I want to dive in to this Wheel of Life by Ploitkin but I have to wait.  The universe deals me “patience” challenges every chance she gets.  Hmph.

Right…so the part where I cried.  Well the Socratic bit was over, the lecture was over, all the questions of logistics were done and it was time to introduce ourselves; in this the 4th hour of our class.  I knew that the Col. would start because that’s just how she is, and damn me for sitting next to her, that meant that I would be second.  Our task was to introduce ourselves and speak about a thing of importance we brought that made a difference in our own development.  Before the task even began I thought, “I am going to cry tonight.”  Ever since one of our classmates discussed recently ending an 11 year relationship I felt a hint of sadness in the room. Not just having a bad day sadness, like…Tonight I wanna cry
sadness.

So I went. I talked about the Princeton hoodie I was wearing and as I went to describe the relationship of P2AD (who gave me the hoodie) and I, I could feel emotion in the back of my throat and I ran in the opposite direction.  I mumbled something about love and doing things from love rather than fear. It was truthful, but not honest.  And as I am here in my safe place I can say, there is no way I could have gone there in class.  Hell, I can barely go there period…but it did make it painfully obvious that all that “stuff” is still very present.

Anyway so then a few more people go, and we get to one classmate who talks about his father and I lost it.  I couldn’t even understand why.  I ask myself my usual, “Are these your tears?” And I think they were a mix. Maybe I was expressing the emotion I ran away from. Maybe I was sharing an experience with my classmate. Maybe I was thinking about my own relationship with my own father. Maybe it was all of those. Either way I sobbed to the point where someone slid me a stack of napkins.  I had to laugh because here I was weeping a river seemingly over a story of a man I never even knew.  5 people later and I thought I had myself under control until another classmate discussed being changed because of an accident, and I was off to the emo races again.  I am completely changed because of my accident. It gave me everything I love in life, including life, and it was the biggest turning point in my human existence.  Tears.

Now, I have cried before in class and one of those ugly cries that you can’t control or stop. However, that was at least halfway through the semester and in a class that had “healing” in the title. I feel it is somehow more permissible there.  <—These are excuses.  I do not exactly have a picture in my head of what a Doctoral student is or what they do, because I have never been around any until I was one.  I can say this, I did not think she was the type to cry for an hour on the first day.

Within the first 5 minutes of our meeting Dr. Green had us work with a partner to come to a consensus about a thing.  I was partners with the Colonel and we immediately decided that we were not in this degree program for the degree, though it is a welcomed consequence. We are both here for the personal work, and to come out as changed people because of it.  For her, a retired Marine Colonel it probably makes more sense to do something just for you and just for the personal benefit. For me who hasn’t even had a solid year of professional work experience outside of Graduate research positions? It seems a bit more unlikely, but its true.  Of course, I will be glad to have completed a terminal degree and contribute to the world of academia but honestly I am more excited about the person I will be, and the person I already am so far.

So if it takes a few tears on the first day of a very scary class to say I learned a lesson and am changed from it, well then I guess that is the cost of presence.

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