Two Years Later And I’m Finally Here

Two Years Later And I’m Finally Here

I am now in the same position as the people I looked up to and wished well as they graduated from Newhouse-land and went off into the world this time last year… Say what?

How did I get here? Why did two years go by so fast? Did I accomplish everything I wanted before I leave? What if I did? What if I didn’t? How can I make the most of what’s left? Where do I go from here? 

These questions don’t give me anxiety, but they definitely make me think long and hard about the past two years. When I came into the PD program, I had one idea of what I wanted to do and where I saw myself going; now, in some ways, that idea has shifted, melted, and reformed itself into something new that I’m passionate about and actively pursuing. Some courses I enjoyed more than others, and I often wondered what was really going on when I occupied spaces I felt less than qualified to inhabit. Even thinking back to the most stressful, infuriating, tear-inducing, absolutely-crawling-to-the-semester-finish-line moments, I can honestly say that it was all worth it.

I also remember thinking the previous cohort really had all the answers when they’d share their progress and adventures in DC in the same way that a child naively wishes to be an adult before their time. Now that I’m here too, I don’t have all the answers to what lies ahead. As we speak I’m still asking questions and knocking on doors in an attempt to both assess where I am and where I see myself going. It feels like I’m a rubber band constantly being stretched and twisted by the things I’ve learned (particularly in the past month) and returning to my original shape at the end of each day a little different than I was the day before.

In reflecting on my experience, it’s also important to consider the people I met that really helped me. Grad school was different for me in the sense that I felt rooted in multiple places with an endless supply of knowledge and listening ears. I went from politely sending emails for meetings to professors and trying to have all my concerns lined up for discussion to just randomly showing up, plopping myself down and letting it flow. Thank you is not even a strong enough thing to say to those professors and staff, and I’m a better person because of them.

If I had to give some advice, all things considered, I’d say always remember that patience is the best friend one can have in times of transition, and to be incredibly kind to oneself and others because no one is truly experiencing this exciting uncertainty alone.

I’m not afraid of the next chapter because I’m a big believer in that what is for me is for me and no one can take away my personal gifts and experiences. So the future is absolutely bright for me, for all of us.

Take care.

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a second-year Public Diplomacy graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
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