29 April 2015

The Lessons I Didn't Expect in Grad School

It only took me six years, but I finally finished graduate school.

Something I worked so long and hard for, it feels kind of weird to be all done with. Part of me wonders what I'll do with this extra time now that won't be dedicated to studying or paper writing. One thing the last six years have taught me are the surprising life lessons that came outside of the classroom.

 1. Learning to deal with difficult people
Most life I have spent trying to avoid tension and rocking the boat. If there were difficult people or situations I had to face, I did what most rational adults do; look the opposite direction and pretend they don't exist. Looking back over the last six years, there have certainly been plenty of situations where I have had to deal with difficult people. From unkind students to the professor who accused me of something I never actually did, I had had enough experiences that have given me practice at learning the right (and not so right ways) to deal with difficult folks. Learning about boundaries also has really helped me deal with the crazies in school I have encountered, but that's another story for another time.

2. Be okay with being alone
This may sound strange. When I say alone, I don't mean sitting off in a corner rocking back and forth in the fetal position, but be comfortable and confidant with yourself even if you have to sit alone or be yourself. I remember in high school if I ever would have had to sit by myself at lunch I would have died of embarrassment. The older I have gotten, I have learned part of healthiness is being okay with yourself, being alone in a healthy sense. 
I have had times where I ate alone or walked into a class where I didn't know anybody. And I learned to be okay with that. I can walk through life situations without having a bestie right at my side. For me, I have found most growth when I stretch myself to be comfortable and at peace even when I am alone or by myself.

3. Practice at humility
There have been several professors I have had who are very famous and well-known in the world of Catholicism. I was shocked in some their of classes to find these professors constantly act like they were the best thing since sliced bread. You'd think they had saved the Pope from quick sand or something! Seeing a fair amount of bragging and self-promotion reminded of the importance of true humility when working in ministry (or in any job but especially in ministry). It can be easy to think all the great, life-giving things that go well for ministry I serve in are because of wonderful me. Not so. Sure I can do awesome, beautiful things for the Kingdom, but it is only God working through me (humble and teachable) that these things succeed and bear fruit. Who would of thought braggy professors would remind of the importance of humility in my own life and work?

4. Faith grows through our own wrestling and searching
I used to think people asking questions and wrestling with their faith meant that they didn't trust God enough or believe in Him hard enough. Even though I have always been a believer, I am surprised over my time at seminary how many instances in class and even in my own personal life my wrestling with questions and searching for the truth led me to deeper, more mature faith in God.

5. Men and Women can be friends
Yes I know that can sound strange. Growing up I never really had any guy friends. Other than dating I guess I didn't really know how to be friends with guys unless. Then I went to graduate school at a seminary; which as a Catholic translates to studying mostly with guys studying to become priest's. Of course there were some strange bears who looked at women like they were she-devils trying to take away their priestly vocation (but those were few and far between). The experience of going to school at the seminary has shown and given me experience of what good, healthy relationships between men and women can look like.

Have you ever had an average, normal life circumstance end up teaching you important life lessons?
Or is that just me? ;-)
post signature


  1. Yay Patty! Congratulations! And it's true that learning to be alone is a real skill and gift when you think about it. And I love that you went to the seminary, those friendships will be a blessing for your whole life!

  2. Congrats Patty! I completely agree with all of these. Especially difficult people.

  3. #3- there is a very famous Catholic 'theologian' who I had for two classes. Let's just say #notimpressed

    So happy for you Patty! You rock.

  4. Funny, I also mentioned the 'alone' thing a little bit in my blog post. I went places alone and ate alone all the time--because for whatever reason, I had friends, but they weren't the kind you ate lunch with because we were too busy to eat lunch at the same time. And probably 75% of my friends in college were guys--actually, Angel and I had primarily the same friend group--for our first few years of marriage in Michigan we'd regularly invite all of our bachelor friends over for home-cooked dinners, and they would love to ask me for girl advice!

  5. Oh grad school...I almost went nuts in grad school. At this point, I believe grad school is designed to break your spirit...unfortunately. But YAY for making it out on the other side! I bet you've sworn off any further educational endeavors by now. ;)


09 10