First day nerves
This past week, I started the next chapter of what has been a long and gruelling process to change the direction of my career, and I am happy to report that I am now officially a trainee clinical psychologist. I have made it through the first week, and it is all starting to sink in and begin to feel real.
On my first two mornings before going in, I had an hour spare so I sat down to write about how I was feeling. I am a bit embarrassed to share it now, but the truth is, on the first day, I was nervous and rambling, and sometimes it’s good to remember that you can feel that way one minute and feel fine again the next.
And, because I don’t like to post anything without a picture, here is my ‘first day of school’ picture that Ben kindly took of me so that I could send to my parents since they are far away and I don’t get to share as much of it with them as I would like.
Day 1 (30 September 2013):
Okay, another first day… It feels like it wasn’t very long ago that I was writing about my last first day, and, particularly given that I am sitting in the hospital canteen looking out almost directly at what is now my old office building, and receiving thoughtful good luck messages from work friends, it is difficult not to wish that I could just be back at my desk in there.
I generally think of myself as a fairly confident, adaptable person, and until last night (when some of us got together for a social meet-up), I was feeling okay about starting my new programme. Everyone I met last night was lovely, but until I started meeting people, the programme still felt very surreal and far away, and I felt like I would be able to go in and be myself and that the only real change would be my job and the people I was with. However, I forgot that new beginnings are always difficult, and I think that particularly because everyone is new and feeling a bit anxious, it might be more difficult than normal to just kind of sit back and see what everyone else is like and see where I fit in. I am also worried about coming across as overly talkative (which I think is sometimes how I react to new groups to prevent awkward silences). This means that I tend to either be overly chatty or else I over-compensate and become too quiet because I am self-conscious about not wanting to be the loud American. To top it all off, I have been fighting a horrible cold for over a week now, and I feel worn down and low energy, which is not really how I wanted to feel today.
Leading up to today, I had done quite a lot of thinking about how I wanted to manage this course, given that it is three years and will be very challenging at times, both in terms of work and also in terms of the emotional highs and lows. I felt determined to be quite structured with my work and maintain a calm, measured way of approaching everything. I am still hoping to do this, but I feel like my focus has shifted from planning out the whole course to just trying to get through the first days and weeks!!!
Although I am feeling very nervous as I sit here writing this, there is a bit of excitement bubbling under the surface as well, as there always is with new beginnings, and I will try to write more either tonight or later this week once the panicked feelings settle and I can think about things in a calmer way again.
Day 2 (1 October 2013):
Good morning. It is now Day 2! Once again, I am sitting in the hospital canteen killing time before I head to my building. However, it is hard to believe what a difference a day makes. As soon as I arrived at the university yesterday and went into the room where we were all waiting, my nerves evaporated. Everyone was so nice and friendly and seemed very open and genuine. I had a really good first day hearing about what the next three years will be like, getting to know my course-mates, and meeting my tutors. I have no doubt that there will be lots of challenges ahead, but I am now also certain that there will also be lots of good times ahead, and I feel exponentially less nervous about it all. In fact, I felt a bit silly reading back through what I wrote yesterday morning, and I was tempted to change it…but sometimes I think it’s helpful to remember how our thoughts can run away with us, and how rarely our worries are as bad as the reality. As a clinical psychologist in training, it is probably also good for me to remind myself of how vulnerable we can feel when going into an unknown situation, and to remember that no one is immune to potentially feeling vulnerable, even if different things have this effect on us and we react differently to this feeling. I’m not really sure what else to say this morning, but I wanted to write an update as soon as I could just to remind myself of what a difference just a matter of hours of can make.
Other than getting started with work, I have been very busy in the kitchen. Over the weekend, I spent lots of time cooking to make sure that I wouldn’t have to worry about meals this week, and every minute was worth it already. On Saturday, I made barbecue pulled chicken in the slow cooker (recipe to follow shortly), as well as a batch of veggie miso ramen (recipe also to follow shortly) and a loaf of my dairy-free peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread (although I left out the egg and it worked just as well as a vegan version). On Sunday, I made a big pan of my favorite vegan lasagne, which I put in the oven when I got home from the meet-up with my soon-to-be colleagues, and we had lasagne with garlic bread while watching my Minnesota Vikings win their first game of the season while playing at Wembley in London. (Note: I took a picture soon after kick-off because I wasn’t sure how long I would like the score, but as it turns out, I could have waited)!
I am definitely going to do lots of cooking again next weekend, because even with dinner virtually made in advance, we spent nearly our entire evening making dinner and making lunches and getting various things ready for today. I am starting to realise what a big difference me finishing my old job at 4 most days made, and at the moment, we are still leaving just as early in the morning for Ben to get to work on time, but my timetable is full until 5 every day, which means getting the busy slow bus home, and it means that we are both gone each day from 7:10am until about 6pm, which feels like a much longer day and a much shorter evening.
However, in reality, this is what I was doing last week as well, as I was trying to finish lots of work at my old job. I really need to write a couple of separate posts about last week, so I won’t talk too much about that at the moment, but last week involved a horrible cold, lots of time in the car, a couple of lovely walks, a sleepless night in a B & B, mountains of work to do, an incredibly nice leaving meal with people from work, overwhelmingly nice cards and gifts, and lots of cold medicine.
You may notice one important thing missing completely from this list – exercise! That is because it has been a couple of weeks since I have done any exercise at all…between being busy and starting something new, as well as feeling out of breath after walking up one flight of stairs with this cold (which Ben has now caught), exercise has been the farthest thing from my mind. However, I am starting to feel up to getting moving again, and I am hoping I haven’t lost all of the endurance I had built up. Even though the past couple of weeks haven’t included exercise, I do have a few posts I need to finish about my recent running…so hopefully these early mornings waiting around will come in handy for something!
Okay, time to stop writing for now and head toward the university to see what they have in store for us today.
Although I haven’t posted them yet, as I mentioned, I have started writing (or at least mentally planning posts) about my last week at work, Ben and my mini-break to the Northumberland coast, and about ten other things that have been going on in our lives recently. So hopefully over the next couple of weeks, I will be able to catch up.
Hope you are all having a nice weekend!