Hiding behind cushions and writing letters

A haunted castle

A haunted castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I detest scary movies. I just can’t cope with the suspense, in fact I hide behind the nearest cushion when I watch them. Still, scary movies are a perfect metaphor for what it is like to be on the cusp of something big. When the protagonist walks into the basement (why is it always the basement, don’t these people watch scary movies?!) you, the viewer, unlike the protagonist, know that something big (and in this case, bad) is about to happen. Sometimes in life we are the naive protagonist, unaware of imminent events and their likely impact. At other times we are the viewers who realise that something big is happening.

Currently, I’m identifying with the viewers from my scary movie scenario. I get the feeling that I’m on the cusp of something big. Maybe many big things. It probably has a lot to do with starting my Clinical PhD and being a 20-something.  In the past when I’ve felt I was on the cusp, I’ve written letters to my future self about my current experiences and hopes for the future. While I will be writing a letter to Dr Honourable Mentions in her final year, I was inspired by this post http://blogs.plos.org/thismayhurtabit/2010/08/28/letter-to-a-young-doctor/ by Shara Yurkiewicz to blog about my goals too.

Dear Honourable Mentions,

In 2012, one month into your Clinical PhD studies you had some hopes and dreams for your future self, the student about to graduate with a PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2015/2016.  You hoped that:

  • You would be as excited now as you were back then about it all: life, uni, your career, the future…
  • You would have been successful in managing the balance between research and practice, recognising the importance and enjoyment you get from each and having become what you always wanted to be: an academic and a psychologist.
  • You have been sharing this journey with great people and that you have regularly taken time out to have fun and seize the day

Moving on from these ‘big three’ over-arching goals to some that are more specific, you also hoped that:

  • You would have had the chance to publish some of your research
  • You seized the opportunity to travel overseas, meeting some of the people whose work you have read and cited
  • You have had the chance to present at a conference and hold your own
  • You have given a lecture and/or run a tutorial
  • You were able to master counselling, therapy and assessment skills – by master, you mean being able to conduct a session with a client without feeling like you are learning to drive a manual for the first time. You haven’t actually seen any clients yet, but from all reports and from practising with your peers it’s obvious it’s going to take a little while before you can monitor all the things you need to be doing and actively listen and respond to clients without feeling like this.
  • You have helped clients realise their own abilities and resources, in other words embraced non-directive/client-centred therapy
  • You feel that you are competent with a range of clients, e.g. people of varying ages with differing concerns
  • You have developed your own style as a clinician, based on all that you have learnt and with the flexibility to adapt to each client
And finally, my miscellaneous goals:
  • To finally have learned to play ALL of “The Heart Asks Pleasure First”
  • To have figured out how your acoustic guitar works – It’s one thing being able to read music, and quite another understanding the system underpinning which string corresponds to which note
  • To have had a snowball fight
  • To have been involved with some sort of social group e.g. sports, dance, performance etc.
  • To have participated in a flash mob –  I did say these were miscellany

Best of luck with it all Honourable Mentions circa 2015/16. I know you can do it. And remember, I’ll be back here to remind you that you can if you forget.



Filed under Clinical Phd, Goals, milestone, PhD, Reflections

3 responses to “Hiding behind cushions and writing letters

  1. Hi, I just got a pingback about this post on my blog. I’m glad you were inspired enough to write to Future You! The only downside with making the goals public is that you reread them… and you lose the fun of opening a sealed letter in 4+ years. On the other hand, when you’re having a tough day, it’s really great to be able to look back and see what excited you about this journey in the first place. Congrats on beginning, and all the best.

    • Hello, thanks for your comment and well wishes. I agree with your views on the pros and cons of public goals. I’ll have to make sure that I put in a few extra goals and musings so that when I do open my private letter there are still a few surprises. I hope everything is going well with your med student journey.

  2. Pingback: 2012 Haiku | Honourable Mentions

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