Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Dichotomy

I started my internship in the schools this week as one of my last requirements for my MA in speech-language pathology (aside from that pesky little thesis, of course). As promised by all of my friends, I absolutely love it. I mean, so far. I'm still just shadowing and not doing any actual work, but it's still awesome.

This experience coming hard on the heels of essentially three months of utter and complete freedom to work on my thesis has made me realize some interesting things about myself (or perhaps, myselves?).

When I was working on the thesis, I was completely engrossed in theoretical conjectures, abstract thought and lots of mental gymnastics. I was also in a room by myself. During this time, I became much more like the stereotypical crazy academic--muttering to myself as I walked across campus, getting caught by sudden inspiration at mealtimes with friends, feverishly jotting down notes on napkins, envelopes and even a paper tablecloth. I became completely self-centered, and yet was making great progress in my development of my thoughts.

When I started at my internship, I was constantly interacting with others. Though my practice required me to rely on my theoretical background, I had to apply my knowledge immediately and did not have time to sit and ponder much of anything at all. Abstractness was the enemy, since I was dealing with kindergartners who had the attention span of a gnat and teenagers who didn't really understand the concept of "never" and "always." Theory doesn't really work so well then. So I wasn't really thinking as much, but I was also a lot more socially appropriate and interactive.

Crazy thing is, I was utterly blissful in both situations. Well, that's not entirely true. I was much more "tormented" in the first scenario. I would debate with myself over various issues, get so frustrated with insolvable quandaries, etc. Tortured genius stuff, except without the genius part. Maybe that's why I was so tortured?

Regardless, I still found research very satisfying, particularly when I would have those little a-ha moments that make it all worthwhile. Having no schedule also helped too.

But I find therapy itself amazingly fabulously wonderful. I feel exactly like I did the day of my first observation of an SLP (a friend), and the day that I decided my course for sure. I thought to myself, "They PAY you to do this?" It was so fun, great, and seemed relatively easy. I felt like this was absolutely my calling, something I was born to do that utilized many of my talents. Not to mention, I could actually HELP people!

Oops... digression narrowly averted.

Essentially, I am finding that I am two different people to some extent when I am engaged in these two different activities. At some point in my life and career, I will need to decide how much of each I want to pursue and what kind of career that would entail. Professorship? Clinical supervisor? Clinician? Clinician who does research? Hmm... well, at least I don't need to decide just yet. I need to finish this degree first!

No comments: