I start a week long process of digging into my consciousness to unlock information, synthesize it and write coherent exam papers to move into PhD candidacy. Exams start on Monday and span over the next two weeks. The purpose is to test whether I have the competencies to write a proposal, conduct research and complete a dissertation.

Right now, as I sit among stacks of textbooks and research articles, I reflect back on the past five/six years. As soon as I began my PhD program, life took me on a roller coaster ride. I went through an emotional upheaval and a subsequent transformation. I struggled during that time and never imagined being here: absent a til-death-do-us-part-husband, flying solo, occasionally towing an Airstream, and embarking on a creative/research/discovery-oriented life.

In 2008, I started this program, realized I was in it for the long haul and committed. I was excited and optimistic about becoming an expert in the field of Asian American leadership development.

Little did I know what was on the horizon.

From 2009 through 2010, my personal life unraveled. A situation at the beginning of the year caused extreme emotional distress. This traumatic experience had a domino effect on a relationship with the man who I thought I would be with til-death-do-us-part. Our relationship dissolved. And for most of the year, I was confused, lost, sad, and I allowed myself to be taken advantage of because I didn’t know any better. It was through the support from friends and a lot of writing that I survived the messiness of that period.

Then in 2011, something beautiful happened. I started a new life and new job in Santa Barbara. I lived by the beach. I adopted a dog. I healed by focusing on me for eighteen months. As I gained strength, my Dad was losing his. So I left the lovely beach town to help my parents out.

In 2012, a few months after I moved to the Bay Area, my dad experienced a heart attack. He had another one six months later. He is stable now and I am grateful for the time I have with my parents. I know this time is finite.

Now, Sunday, August 18, 2013 as I mentally prepare for the exams, I needed to take an emotional inventory. And looking back on it all, I’m grateful that I didn’t just survive…I evolved.

These textbooks contain only a fraction of my knowledge. The rest is based on lived experiences and my perspective on the world. I’m ready show what I’ve got. I’ve earned this opportunity. I owe it to myself to do well and pass.


Categories: Elixir

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