We are kicking off a new Matriculate series today! Throwback Thursdays will offer reflections from alumni, current students, spouses, and partners on their journey to The Seattle School. Just like you, they lived into the tension of anticipating graduate studies while navigating big moves and significant lifestyle adjustments. They are excited to share some of their experiences with you, starting today with Dan Meier (MA in Counseling Psychology, ‘17), a therapist in private practice who also works as Human Resources & Benefits Specialist at The Seattle School.
Five years ago, I packed as many of my belongings as I could fit into four suitcases (two of which only contained books), got on a airplane, and flew across the country to start my new life in Seattle. At the time of moving, I did not know anybody in the Seattle area and only had a shaky understanding of what I was getting myself into here at The Seattle School. The biggest emotion I felt was fear: fear that I would not make friends, fear that I would not fit in with the school, fear that I would not be strong enough to withstand looking at my story and having others see me fully. Ultimately, my biggest fear was that I would fail and be a failure. This fear was part of a worn-out story that I had been telling myself for years about who I was, how I was supposed to act, and how I should feel about myself.
And yet, in the face of this fearful story, I found myself driving to the airport, saying goodbye to my family and friends, traveling from the heart of the Midwest to the “progressive” West Coast, moving into a new home with strangers, and finally, meeting new students in my 2014 Seattle School cohort. Each step forward was a chance to make a small deviation in my story. Some of these steps were uncomfortable or even painful, and yet I kept moving forward. What I found at the school was a community of imperfect people all trying to figure out how to live together, do story work, and make a positive difference in the world. Sometimes this communal wrestling match led to conflict, misunderstandings, and lots of cognitive dissonance. These disruptions also created opportunities for growth, new understandings, deeper relationships, and a greater capacity for personal discomfort. For me, it was (and still is) a crucible of personal formation.
As I settled into my new life at The Seattle School, I discovered over and over again that I was not alone in this process. I was far from the first student to move across the country, walk the halls of the red brick building, go through the Practicum experience, make new friends, and learn to hold my own story with compassion. Students, faculty, and staff walked alongside me and helped me discover that the true source of my strength as a man and a human being lay not in my ability to maintain the appearance of an even keel at all times, but in my choice to stay present and engaged with myself in the midst of pain. It is a lesson I continue to learn and one that has allowed me to write new chapters in my story that I never thought I would get the chance to read.
My hope for all of you as incoming students is that you will not let fear have the final word in writing your stories; that you will know you have the courage to take the next step forward in your journey. Know that, as you pack up your life in one location and move it to another, you are not alone. Know that, as you begin to bring parts of your story to others and experience ruptures and repairs, you are not alone. Know that, as you get to know a new city, a new culture, and a new group of people, you are not alone. Know that, as you wrestle with your own internal critic and stories you have told yourself, you are not alone. Most of all, my hope and my prayer is that you would remember and remind yourself over and over again that you are brave.