Starting over with something new = surprisingly difficult

Again, it has been a long time since I’ve visited my own blog but I think I’ll make an effort to resume posting updates and my thoughts. I’ve just started taking classes at Seton Hall University on the way to getting a Master of Social Work degree. And I’ll cut to the chase. It’s only 2 weeks into the semester and I’m already nervous that I’m falling behind.

I realize that I’m having a difficult time retaining what I’ve been assigned to read. For example, this is a paper the class has been asked to read in our introductory course called Behavior and Environments. Kinda like General Chemistry I, only for grad students who want to understand how to help people and enable them to thrive instead of struggle.

Person-In-Situation: History, Theory, and New Directions for Social Work Practice
Kathryn L. Cornell – available on scribd

It’s 6 pages of a pretty dense historical journey on understanding how the role of social work and social reform in our lives has evolved. So, I began reading it one day and got about half way through and called it a night. I come back to it the next day and I was alarmed to find that it seemed like a completely different article. Had I really read that stuff? Just yesterday? WHERE’S. THE. FOCACCIA???

So, I go over it again and write down pretty extensive details in my own notebook. Direct quotes and my own paraphrasing of certain ideas. It took a long time to do that for the whole thing but there it is. Yes, it helped me recall more of it but I noticed another thing. I couldn’t be sure where I was just paraphrasing stuff or directly copying the text. Really? Aww, man, that focaccia’s gotta be here somewhere… Now I know I’m going to have to come up with a symbol to indicate where what I’ve written down is in my own words. That won’t be too hard but I’m going to have to adopt that as a rule going forward.

So, let me step back a bit and say that I’ve been reading a lot of things these past few years but it was only for recreation, without any demand that I really recall the content in detail. Well, I guess I’ve been fooling myself into thinking I was retaining it. Sure, I am confident I understand things, and if I don’t, I look up things for greater detail. But now I know I’ve been fooling myself a little about whether it has sunk in.

What does this all mean for anyone else considering retraining when they find they cannot go back to what they were doing before their injury? I know that everyone’s injury affects them differently so I can’t give specific advice but what I can tell you is this:

All this time you’ve been recovering has been a long rehearsal schedule for figuring out how you’ll deal with the world out there that has become a lot more challenging. 

You know that saying, “Fake it until you make it.”? As much as I don’t think it is all that helpful, apparently I’ve been doing it without realizing it in some aspects. If I ever got reminded I didn’t remember something somewhere I just brushed it off as Eh, close enough for jazz. That’s not gonna cut it in an academic setting. So what does this all mean going forward? I haven’t decided what I’m going to do overall but one thing will be to take a good hard look at all these things I now do in life and put some of them on the shelf for a while. I’m not spending a lot of money to get yet another degree for nothing. I’ll figure it out – I think – but I realize it is going to be harder than I thought. For a number of reasons and maybe I’ll have the time to make another part of this blog to discuss this process.

Those survivors with what’s considered a mild TBI who want to do something more are fortunate to have recovered enough to even contemplate it but there are unexpected challenges. I know there are more of us out there so maybe this will help folks keep their spirits up when those mountains seem too hard to climb.

About peterwick

I was a long-time jack of all trades. Until suddenly I was different.
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2 Responses to Starting over with something new = surprisingly difficult

  1. Drew D. Saur says:

    Peter. That stuff is DRY. I don’t think I could absorb it if I tried. I love your writing and humor. I wish you the best of luck.

    Like

  2. S.Mullie says:

    Hey Wick,
    Welcome to the world of reading, rereading, and rereading while taking notes and redoing the same frigging notes because the first set don’t make sense. You my friend are starting to recover. DON”T let this kick you in the ass! The world needs more survivors like you. One day somewhere along this trail of life it will all make sense. The mind is a beautiful complex thing, that once injured takes years to rebuild and recover. I know you hate it when we talk and I tell you “give it time” but this is a “give it time:” moment. its coming and if anyone can make a degree happen you can. I still struggle with this when reading complex passages, hence why I have debated so long on returning to do a degree myself. You can do it Peter! Don’t give up on yourself…….. I won’t give up on you either. I look forward to your next post.

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