I can be a bit of a control freak at times. I like to know where my life is going, the steps it will take me to get there, who will be on the journey with me, and any other critical pieces that may come into play. I never imagined being on this doctoral journey with my partner would create such turmoil with the controlling and planning part of myself.
In an effort to maintain my cool through these overwhelming times, I have been reading a blog titled, The Graduate Wife. As I have been recently struggling with the notion of not being in control of my future, and needing to take every day, every week, every month one step at a time, I knew I needed to hear how others have tackled this. I needed some support. I needed to read some stories that resonated with my own.
As I perused the blog site, I stumbled across an article in the advice and support column. It was of a woman seeking some advice because her husband's PH.d journey was delaying her dream to start a family. She was struggling with the idea of moving across the country and away from her family while her husband started school. Along with this they both juggled with the idea of having a baby. This woman wanted to know how she could be supportive of his dreams while still remaining focused on her dreams and needs as well.
This was ME! Maybe not specifically, but at the root of her concern were mines. How do you maintain the support that you need to have for your spouse while also not losing sight of supporting yourself?
As I begin the read the post, the first sentence resonated so strongly with me that I had to take a moment and reflect on it. It stated "The first rule – and the last rule, and every rule in between- of the grad student life is this: to survive this adventure, you have to be willing to accept that this journey will ask you, at different times and in different ways, to let go of your expectations for how your life will be."
So your asking me to do probably one of the most difficult things in the world? Let Go.
In order to be a supportive partner and be successful in this journey together, I am realizing that I have to let go. I have to be willing to let go of all the plans I had when we first started dating, and be prepared to develop new plans with my partner based on the uncertainty of this graduate school journey.
To take time and go through all the goals, dreams, aspirations, and visions I have had for life in these next few years and decide which ones will we focus on, which ones will we put on hold, and which ones will we let go of seemed like such a daunting task; however I am certain that this will allow me to begin to build the new life with my future husband that I seek.
The article went on to state that "Sometimes being stripped clean of everything you hold tightly leaves your hands empty, wide open, and ready to receive something new and beautiful, something greater than your imagination would have allowed. In other cases, the things that are closest to our hearts are meant to be protected, cherished, and cultivated; and the most difficult part is identifying what those are, then working out – together [with your husband] – how to bring them to life.
So although I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and trying to find the balance between being supportive and maintaining a sense of self...I know that the next stages of my life will require me to let go of some of that control that has been a major part of my identity all of these years. I can not say it will be an enjoyable task, but in the end, while on this journey with my partner, I am confident that we will be much stronger for it.