Today, instead of flying across the world to start a job in Ghana, I’m staying right where I am. Year 34 has taken a completely different turn. I’m ecstatic, if not a bit dizzy, scared, astonished and stunned.
It’s taken me a few weeks to organize my brain around the change. I was stuck inside the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken:
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood…”
Except, for me, both roads looked less traveled and wrought with struggle, growth and finding my way blindly.
After much contemplation, the road I chose does not immediately take me to Africa, although I have no doubt I will get back there soon. The road I am now riding on is going to lead me through the journey of completing a PhD.
I declare this with a joyful, calm and thankful heart. I wholeheartedly believe by choosing this path I can eventually have the life I have dreamed of and imagined myself living.
A PhD has been something I’ve been wanting to undertake for a while now, only to face rejection after rejection letter since 2011. Last year, I thought I’d try applying again (never quit, right?) and before I had two offers of acceptance (two!), I was passionately preparing for Ghana. One offer I received a month ago was a game-changer. With trepidation and some disbelief, I accepted it.
And so here I am. Jobless and somewhat aimless until September.
This whole situation is still hard to believe and a bit surreal. An institution is going to pay me to go to school, research and teach? Furthermore, it’s in Ottawa. A city with a vibrant, thumping heartbeat full of citizens engaged in civil service and government. A city with many international NGOs, working in development. A city that is at the core of Canadian democracy. A beautiful, old, active city with a good hockey team. A city with easy access to Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and much of the Eastern USA. A city with all four seasons. A bilingual city. I’m beyond thrilled about this impending move across Canada.
Best of all, the program and school is really well-suited to my research interests. I plan to look at how the two disciplines of social work and international development can be more strongly married. I am hopeful my project will take me around this world, impacting both social work education, social work practice and global social innovation and change. I’m truly answering my calling and believe I am the only person who is meant to pursue this.
Looking back, I can say with assurance that everything happens for a reason. There have been many moments and experiences during the last six months that were supposed to happen, whether or not the final destination was Ghana. The incredible month in Toronto for one. Without this, I would not be where I am today, and would be without the tremendous learning and friendships that were gained. I am very grateful.
In addition, I now have space. Four whole months to play with. This is unheard of. For someone who is usually running off her feet and full of plans, this has halted me dead in my tracks. I’m starting to feel excited about what is to come and unfold in this time. A trip to India is first on my list to organize. I’ve been wanting to go back for years.
What’s my message in all of this confusion? Live for today because you never know what’s around the corner. Impermanence is the only certainty. Accept what is. And then release.