Friday, January 26, 2007
We Went to Different Schools Together
As a wrap-up, I did send that letter to my classmates, largely in the same form as below. And it has gotten a very sweet, unexpected response. Several people have written to me, using words like "brave" and "respect" and "happy." So, that's cool.

Another unexpected result has been the realization of just how diverse a group of people can be, even when we're crammed into the pressure cooker of grad school and mixed together in odd ways. I look at J, for instance, who comments here regularly and has maintained a consistent blog-comments relationship with me since we left school, and I realize that while on some level I knew that she didn't feel like she was in the mainstream crowd, I always thought of her that way. Sure, she had a few bumps in the road and concerns about whether she would make it (didn't we all?), but she has completed her internship and dissertation and is officially Dr. J now. But she doesn't play basketball. Which is really a loss for the sports community.

But I read her comments, and her blog post, and I realize that she didn't feel as self-confident or part of the in-crowd as I thought she was.

And I'm reminded of how many parents I know who put on a happy face, talk about how much they love parenting and how fulfilling it is, and they don't admit to the times when they feel like idiots, like failures, like fodder for future therapy discussions. Or the times when we admit we don't like something about our kids, or feel like we're missing out on something other parents have (blogger Erin has a beautiful post on this, but again, I'll wait to link it until I get her permission). Yet when we do give in and get brave and admit to those self-doubts, we realize how many other people feel that way too, and we get all sorts of support and relief. "Oh, you feel that way too? It's not just me? Oh, that's so great. I'm so glad you're not perfect." Crazy how that works.

So, yeah. Just another case of going to different schools together - all these people sat mere inches away from me for four years, and yet everyone had such wildly different experiences in the moment, and different memories now. So far, no one sounds like a failure.

Not even me.