Recently, The Seattle School community marked the end of another academic year at the 15th annual Spring Banquet. This year’s theme was Come Tell the Story, an evening of weaving individual narratives into the collective story of who we are. In case you missed it, we’re sharing several of the stories that were read at the banquet (read a previous post from Beau Denton—about the surprising, stubborn presence of God—here). May you hear in these stories an invitation to come and tell your story. Here, Mark Demmel—spouse of Krista Demmel, a first-year student in the MA in Counseling Psychology program—shares about the fears that come when a loved one enters graduate school.
When my wife started talking about going to graduate school, I knew it was probably going to happen. To use a quote from one of her children’s books, “A Dreamer is for dreaming the BIGGEST of dreams! So dream it and do it, no matter how hard it seems.” Needless to say, my wife is a dreamer—and I am the slow and methodical “so-called” voice of reason in our relationship. If you timed this story tonight, I’ll probably hit within a few seconds of the time I was allotted.
I began to get afraid when, after one door of work closed for me, I wasn’t able to find another open door. These fears grew when it became very obvious that Krista was about to be leaving her job. Was the door to The Seattle School really opening, and would we be brave enough to walk through it?
The fear of leaving our family and friends and the familiar in Nebraska was more haunting than I wanted to admit. But in the end, the fear of life staying the same was greater. We made the move.
Leaving the familiar was more haunting than I wanted to admit. But fear of life staying the same was greater.
More fears: Finding a place to live, student loans, finding new friends, learning a new city, public transportation, filling out dozens of job applications month after month with no success, getting lost…a lot! “It’s only five miles away; how did it take me an hour to get here?” And could I possibly learn the crazy-ass language they speak at this school?
Then bigger fears: Is there enough time to develop rich and deep friendships? Are we all going our separate ways in 2-4 years, and if so, will people be willing to know me and to be known? Will I be willing? My wife has her built-in school friends, but where do I fit? Since she is getting her Master’s degree, will I get left behind? Are we going to grow apart?
These fears and many others…I’d love to say they came and went quickly, were quiet and played nice when they came, but that would be far from the truth.
The rigid structures and cowardice that I came here to put behind me grow smaller daily when I choose the courage to heed the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong person stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who knows the great enthusiasms and the great devotions and spends oneself on a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
My struggle with fear continues, as I’m sure yours does as well. However, this quote embodies the courage I see in the partners, students, staff, and faculty at The Seattle School, all of whom, by virtue of being a part of this school, dare greatly. I am proud to say this school is a part of my story.
We know that Mark’s fears—Will I get left behind? Are we going to grow apart?—are shared by other spouses, partners, and family members of graduate students. Mosaic at The Seattle School seeks to offer support, care, and connection as couples and families embark on the journey of graduate school together. We invite you to join us for the last Mosaic breakfast of the year this Saturday, June 20, 9-11 a.m. in the Commons. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.