What After Studenthood?

A scholarship took me from high school to college to major in mechanical engineering.  I became a good student, graduating first in our mechanical engineering class.  I went on to graduate school, and again did quite well as a mechanical engineering graduate student, completing my PhD coursework in two years after my BS, but, as many, stalling out when it came to dissertation time.

I joined SDRC, an engineering consulting and computer software start-up.  At first I worked as an engineer.  Oops.  An engineer I was not! I moved into administration and then executive management and corporate account sales.  I was much more at home in these roles than in my engineering role.

With my interest in things spiritual, mid career at SDRC I applied to a Lutheran seminary to become a Lutheran pastor. Of course with my academic background I had no trouble getting in, but in a battery of interest and personality profile tests, I learned that I had hardly any matching personality traits for people serving as pastors. The advice I received was that I could be a pastor if I insisted and worked hard, but it would quite challenging for me and not be a good fit. Fortunately for all concerned, I stuck with SDRC. Twenty-nine years in all.

Just before retirement from SDRC, my interest in spirituality took me to graduate courses at St. Mary’s Seminary in a Catholic Lay Pastoral Ministry Program. Again, for over 30 graduate credit hours, I was a great student.  But when I later tried to apply these learnings as a hospital chaplain intern, again I was awkward.  The role of chaplain did not fit.  I then went to massage school.  Same story, great student, mediocre massage therapist.

So now I’ve gone through the Pathwork transformation program, teacher training, and helper training, 8 years in all.  Again, a good student, but I am not manifesting a helper practice nor am I comfortable in an assisting teacher role in the transformation program, a role I have donned for some three years now.

I do enjoy making Pathwork PowerPoint presentations, and feel real engagement with students in making such presentations.  But I was discouraged in these.  “You are in your head,” seemed to be the complaint, assessing my teaching to be more lecturing than facilitating learning.  I was told to use flip charts and not get so elaborate.  I got it and complied, but I felt discouraged about how I fit in as a potential teacher.

Then yesterday a senior helper who had seen a major presentation I had made a year ago asked if I had finished developing my Pathwork master presentation and if the helpers were using it.  I was shocked that he remembered it and related to it. At the same time felt encouraged to do more on it.  Somehow I had given up on that work that I truly enjoy, just to fit in.

And of course I love recording the Pathwork lectures and one-to-one engagements on spiritual and personal development sharings.  I also enjoy organizing, leading, and the like, left over from my administrative and leadership roles at SDRC, my church days, and roles in other organizations.

As I look out over the checkered landscape of my student life and my professional and spiritual lives, some things become clear.  First, I need to focus on what I love most and do best and not get pigeonholed into roles that do not fit me. Secondly, I see a vast variety of needs I could help meet.  I realize that some of my administrative skills are valuable.  I realize that teaching Pathwork involves a spectrum of skills, and perhaps that a teacher of a first-year transformation class may need skills that a teacher of advanced Pathwork may not and vice versa.  We can celebrate our diversity!

So we’ll see what lies next in my participation in Pathwork and other areas of life. Clearly I want to look beyond my studenthood!